The Capitol Hill shooting is a reminder that political opponents are not “the enemy” and that all those “government employees” politicians are using as pawns are real people and our fellow citizens. No matter how “brave” supporters may say a politician is, it simply doesn’t compare to the bravery of first responders who run into physical danger.
As for the CR battle (it sure does look petty in comparison), something significant happened today that was not a show vote, a gaffe or a new talking point. The Post reports:
House Speaker John A. Boehner, apparently sharing Obama administration alarm about a possible debt default, has told colleagues he will act to raise the federal debt limit even if he has to rely on the votes of House Democrats, GOP aides said Thursday.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether Boehner (R-Ohio) would stand by such a position publicly or whether it would prove to be a trial balloon allowing him to gauge the reactions of the GOP’s tea party wing.
If that is in fact Boehner’s position, then the Republicans have taken away the president’s excuse for not talking to them. Several senior Republicans on the Hill acknowledged that this meant there really would not be “bargaining over the debt ceiling” to which the president objected. One senior Senate aide added that “the no-negotiating stance can’t play well in the rest of the country.”
Sometimes the president and his Democratic allies should take yes for an answer. His objection to discussing the major budget issues is that he would not negotiate under duress or allow Republicans to “blackmail” the country with its credit rating. Well, Boehner assured him that would not happen. So declare victory and start talking about what budget issues can be horse-traded. The CR at this point is simply going to swept up into the discussion; Republicans should propose an immediate sit-down with the White House for comprehensive budget issues that can include temporary funding.
The R’s can also declare victory. They repeatedly said they wanted the president to stop ignoring them. If he and/or Dems now engage on issues ranging from entitlements to tax reform to the sequester then it’s a win for them. The president says Obamacare is untouchable; if that is true and there is nothing whatsoever to discuss, then by the same token he should take off the table the Republicans’ must-have: No tax increase. But everyone should eschew preconditions and begin talking; we will hit the debt ceiling in two weeks.
Now, that’s the sort of approach that would demonstrate both sides want to solve the problem. If they don’t take this crack in the brick wall between them and try to resolve the impasse then we know one or both think it’s to their advantage to remain gridlocked.