October 18, 2013

* Michael Gerson boils down the meaning of the government shutdown fiasco: “It is now clear that there is no functioning majority in the House of Representatives.” And this:

Will the tea party be chastened by recent defeat? Not likely, or not for long. Because tea party leaders inhabit an alternative political reality — sheltered in safe districts or states, applauded by conservative media, incited (or threatened) by advocacy groups, carried along by a deep current of anger and frustration among activists — they have no incentive to view defeat as defeat. In fact, turning against tactical radicalism would involve serious political risk. So every setback is interpreted as a need for greater purity and commitment.

To reiterate, there’s probably nothing Tea Party conservatives in the House will ever accept that results from compromises reached within conventional governing norms. Not sure what the GOP can — or will — do about this.

* Fun: Charlie Cook gently suggests to conservatives and Republicans that perhaps their political instincts are a bit out of whack. The serious point raised by Cook is that we may be seeing a level of political self-delusion similar to the one spawned by Clinton-hatred in the 1990s.

* Is the government shutdown really over? Not really. As David Dayen explains in a must read, the sequester and BCA spending caps are doing far more damage than the shutdown fiasco did, hurting the economy and constraining investments in the future, and it may well go on for years.

* Jonathan Chait predicts GOP use of the sequester as leverage in upcoming budget talks to extract huge entitlement cuts will be about as successful as Ted Cruz’s shutdown strategy. There probably won’t be any big deal, which leaves immigration reform as the only way left the party can prove (if it wants to) that it’s capable of governing.

* Lucia Graves has a much-needed corrective to exaggerations of Mitch McConnell’s heroism in the shutdown crisis. Yes, he helped avert catastrophe at the last minute, but he wasn’t the early voice of reason he has claimed to be.

* Jonathan Bernstein is good on the debate among Texas Republicans over, of all things, the 17th amendment, the intense pressure on Republicans to out-crackpot one another, and what that says about today’s GOP.

* About that individual mandate delay Republicans are seeking: Sarah Kliff has a deep dive into what you should keep an eye on as the rush to fix Obamacare continues. An interesting tidbit:

The open enrollment period is 182 days long and, right now, we’ve still got 164 days to go.

So, there’s still time. But it is running out.

* Ed Kilgore on another potentially serious problem: Those who need health coverage the most, i.e., the sick, and not the young and healthy, are the ones who will most likely persevere through computer purgatory to get signed on.

* On the flip side, Steve Benen has a short, pithy take on why Obamacare’s Oregon success story matters, in good ways and in bad.

* Sean Hannity had some families on his show to talk about their personal experience of the horrors of Obamacare, But Eric Stern called them up and found out they didn’t really experience the horrors of Obamacare at all. As always, a normal debate about the health law — whether its tradeoffs are worth it — is simply impossible.

* And Kevin Drum responds to Hannity:

Hannity runs a big-time show with well-paid producers, but they apparently couldn’t find even a single true example of someone who got screwed by Obamacare. How hard can that be? Even liberals acknowledge that some people will end up worse off. But Hannity’s staff couldn’t be bothered. I guess he figures his audience doesn’t really deserve any better.

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.