Congress Postures, Pretends at Governing as Markets Sink

  • Share
  • Read Later
Brendan Hoffman / Bloomberg via Getty Images

On most days, the U.S. Senate chamber is a glorified soundstage. Members use its marbled walls and royal blue carpet as a backdrop to read for the cameras and the congressional record. Full and genuine debate is a rarity. But for a few minutes on Tuesday, it seemed one might actually break out.

With Congress racked by twin fiscal crises, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid summoned the entire Senate to the first live quorum call in months, an occasion normally reserved for major votes. The moment might have paved the way toward a deal. Instead, Reid had gathered the chamber to deliver his daily harangue in person. “You folks have to take yes for an answer,” he needled Republicans. As Reid chided House Speaker John Boehner, the GOP senators thumbed their smartphones, peered at slips of paper and gazed at the floor, waiting for their turn to recite their own script.

There were sound bites aplenty, but little actual progress toward a pact to end the eight-day government shutdown or stave off the specter of default. With just over a week until the deadline to lift the debt ceiling, both parties are digging deeper into their trenches.

At this point, the budget brinksmanship, which began when Republicans demanded concessions on Obamacare to keep the government open, has evolved from disputes over policy to tests of patience and nerve. Senate Democrats and House Republicans remain locked in an intractable stalemate, with no formal negotiations and few fresh ideas. The Democrats trotted out a billboard that read “Open the Government.” House Republicans held a press conference in front of wallpaper emblazoned with a #LetsTalk hashtag.

“It’s irresponsible for us to raise the debt ceiling without a family conversation about the finances of this nation,” said Louisiana GOP member John Fleming. But the conversation House Republicans wanted to start was about dusting off a disastrous idea from 2011. They filed a bill to establish a bipartisan, bicameral committee of 20 members tasked with identifying ways to raise the debt ceiling, reduce the deficit and cut spending. Don’t call it a supercommittee, GOP aides insisted, but it certainly looks like one, except without any deadlines or forcing mechanisms that would give the panel any clout. “The supercommittee was a dismal failure,” said Democrat Jim Moran of Virginia. “What’s the point of doing something all over again that we’ve already shown doesn’t work?

Senate Democrats laughed off the proposal. “Another gimmick that says, while we shut the government down, and while we’re threatening default, come to the table? It doesn’t work like their previous gizmos didn’t work,” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Reid introduced a bill that would extend U.S. borrowing authority through the November 2014 midterm elections. While the Nevada Democrat said he had the 60 votes required to surmount Republican opposition, Schumer acknowledged the GOP could use procedural maneuvers to delay a vote on final passage until right before the Oct. 17 deadline at which the Treasury Department says its accounting gimmicks to delay default will be exhausted. Even if it squeaked through, Boehner has said such a measure would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.

While Congress squabbled, Obama was busy restating the same positions he’s held since the start of this fiasco. He called Boehner in the morning to declare he wouldn’t negotiate, then summoned the media in the afternoon to explain why. For an hour the President held forth in the briefing room, but there was no news of note. Obama has calculated that by standing his ground, he can permanently neutralize the Republican tactic of holding the debt ceiling hostage.

That would argue for Congressional leaders to step in and hash out an eleventh-hour deal, as they’ve done plenty of times in the past. But as Boehner said Monday, if there’s still a smoky back room in the Capitol, “there’s no one in it.” If anything, the House GOP’s animosity toward Reid seems to have superseded their dislike for the President. On multiple occasions this week, Reid has all but called Boehner a liar, claiming he reneged on a private agreement to pass a clean government funding bill.

As if it could get uglier, the two parties are even at loggerheads on what constitutes negotiation or the consequences of failing to meet the debt deadline. Democrats say that agreeing to sequester-level spending represents a significant compromise. But as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued, those funding levels are settled law, just like Obamacare. And while a battery of nonpartisan economists say breaching the debt ceiling would be disastrous, a raft of Republicans dismissed such claims as fear mongering.

At this point, diving financial markets and intensifying pressure from Wall Street may be the best hope for a fresh round of genuine negotiations. Even the best outcome would leave another crisis looming. “I suspect that we’ll have to pass some kind of short-term spending bill and debt limit increase,” said Representative Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican. “A month, give or take a week. I believe that’s where we’ll be heading if there is no progress made.”

If there was agreement on anything, it was that it’s time to start talking. “I’m prepared to talk about anything. They can design whatever format they want,” Obama said. “The American people have given us divided government,” McConnell said. “That means we have to talk to each other and get to an outcome.”

But they didn’t get very far. When Reid asked for unanimous consent to begin floor speeches, Texas Senator John Cornyn, the Republican whip, jumped in. Why, he asked, had Reid requested consecutive speaking slots for Democrats, instead of alternating between the two parties?

Reid shrugged. Three Democratic and two Republican speeches was not so uneven, he protested in his soft voice. So Cornyn objected to the motion. The speeches rolled on, but no one was listening.

With reporting by Alex Rogers

44 comments
1120102022
1120102022

In my opinion ,what we need now is not  the abusing democratic .The two parties have been arguing for a long time,and the argument  will continue for another week or month. What the two parties are considering  is as much as possible profit they can gain from this event. They are busy with attacking their opponent or protecting their state nowadays. Facing this problem ,what we need is effective and immediate action ,not the endless and useless argument. We need  experts that can provide usable actions.

1120102122

mdavisk2
mdavisk2

Here's a good, simple article about why this shut down needs to end. <a>http://navixmarketplace.com/news/congress-could-take-a-hint-from-the-supreme-court/ <a/>The votes have been tallied, all laws have been followed and the check and balances have been put to the test. The result? ACA passed. There are glitches with the implementation, as is to be expected for a system of this magnitude, but better resources could be spent on making this healthcare system a success. Instead a minor fraction of the GOP and those too afraid to stand on the side of reason are holding the government hostages because they didn't get their way. 

I am so over this entire debacle. 

MiamiNice57
MiamiNice57

Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!! 

No more Tea Party no more GOP no more nonsence.

MiamiNice57
MiamiNice57

I am done with the GOP.

Shut it down for the next 6 months. I dont care. 

 I have chickens, vegtables fruit trees and am independant.

I build AR's and reload my ammo.

Vote libertarian. Down with the tea party.


angelicvh
angelicvh

Please President Obama, make your presidency your legacy in a good way, negotiate. Reorganize the healthcare plan to what will work, I can't even sign up in my state, I tried the first day!! I would rather not have it, but if we must, delay it a year, work out the glitches so people will have choices Please change the laws in business so companies don't bring workers to part time. Stop fighting, you are our leader, and we need you to be a voice for the people, not your theories or beliefs. Wouldn't it be sad if you were right the people were ready for a revolution, but against you?

I don't want that, I want to support you, you got a Nobel peace prize for what you could accomplish, show that peace and solution driven leadership now. Quit saying the Republicans are holding a gun to your head, they are doing what the checks and balances of the Government are meant for, they are being asked by their constituents. So work with us, your people. Delay Obamacare, work out the bugs for a year, and make it livable for all Americans. Reduce the debt, come up with a workable plan. Please!


jmac
jmac

   I take it for granted, for example, that the deficit is falling fast, that the current continuing resolution that is now in suspension affirmed the sequester levels of spending that are far lower than most Democrats would like, that Obamacare is settled law that can only be repealed by the usual democratic process, and that no sane government would default on its debts. But none of this seems to be accepted by the spokespeople of the Republican “party”.  

They argue that we are facing a Greece-like implosion because of the current levels of debt (and not because they have shut down the government and are refusing to pay our bills until they stop Obamacare), that the deficit is growing (according to Speaker Boehner this week), that Obamacare is such a destruction of the entire American economy that it must be stopped or delayed at even the cost of a default, that a default is impossible anyway, and that even if we defaulted it would be no big deal.

Andrew Sullivan  - Not Fair and Balanced but telling it like it is.  


KayNYC88
KayNYC88

It appears the president will be doing some posturing and pretending today. According to a report this morning, a hot mic picked up Obama and Biden making fun of the new health care law. Looks like the republicans got an early Christmas gift. http://goo.gl/Dqnhbx

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

"Democrats say that agreeing to sequester-level spending represents a significant compromise. But as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued, those funding levels are settled law, just like Obamacare."

Wait....so doesn't that mean that the Democrats sacrificing their budget completely while Republicans sacrifice their ObamaCare hatred to agree on a CR that continues the status quo is actually an appropriate compromise and mid-point between your positions?

barneydidit
barneydidit

Oh...I've got it now...GOP Representative Fleming has made it perfectly clear- Republicans just want to have a 'family meeting" about the budget, because you see...Republicans are just simple family folk.   And that argument makes perfect sense because the Federal Budget is just like a family budget...well...except for the fact that the federal government can print more money or less money depending on its needs...and the federal government can control its revenues by raising or lowering taxes...oh..and of course the federal government has been in debt to one extent or the other nearly every single year since 1780 and yet the "household" continues to be one of the top 2 or 3 on the planet. But yeah, other than those few minor differences, the federal budget is JUST like a household budget.  Nice try though GOP.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"As if it could get uglier, the two parties are even at loggerheads on what constitutes negotiation or the consequences of failing to meet the debt deadline. Democrats say that agreeing to sequester-level spending represents a significant compromise. But as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued, those funding levels are settled law, just like Obamacare. And while a battery of nonpartisan economists say breaching the debt ceiling would be disastrous, a raft of Republicans dismissed such claims as fear mongering."

Pathological non-partisanship is, by definition, a mental disorder.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> “The American people have given us divided government...”

Yup. Ultimately, we created this problem. Too many selfish, lazy, and/or ignorant citizens.


j45ashton
j45ashton

The Democrats have already agreed to GOP spending levels.  That wasn't enough for Mike Lee & Ted Cruz.  So they shut down the gov't to kill Obamacare.  They got nada.  Then they started twisting in the wind with their pseudo-compromises to get 'something' out of it.  They got nothing.  Then this became a bigger problem, a GOP political problem.  So Boehner took a more active hand to deflect public attention away from Obamacare over to the debt ceiling...trying to put Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security under the gun...main Republican agenda items, programs they've been trying to kill for years.  Couldn't even change these when GW Bush was in with an all Republican Senate & House.  Boehner must be out of his mind if he thinks Democrats are going to negotiate this content now.  Truly nuts..  Obama has offered accepting a shorter CR and a shorter debt limit extension.  That's it.  That's the best Boehner is going to get out of this.  Either he's going to accept this or all hell is going to break loose starting with the stock market falling apart.  For both sides...sometimes NOT negotiating IS negotiating.  Any savvy negotiation means someone is willing to walk away from the table & means it.  62% of the nation sees all this as the GOP's fault.  If the status quo continues, as time goes on, that number will only increase.

destor23
destor23

I wish you would not peg this to short term market movements, though the headline overstates your argument a bit.  The transience of market reaction to things like this is probably fueling the antipathy over default today.  It is very dangerous.

berryls
berryls

Republicans want to get together to work on trimming the deficit - but forbid talk of increasing revenue.  Another item from the republican wish list.

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

The GOP has been trying to prove that government doesn't work by making it fail.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

Paul Ryan's latest ransom demand is completely unrelated to the one that precipitated the crisis. That in itself is a perfectly fine reason to continue to ignore them.


gumOnShoe
gumOnShoe

The GOP doesn't want a government whether they get less or nothing they don't care, so long as that less or nothing is a measurement of how much government is left.

How do you negotiate with a terrorist who wants to blow up everyone, or at least a few? Its more a question of letting them hang themselves, say the hopeful. We have given the GOP their rope, let's all eat popcorn while they tie the noose and step up on the gallows. The gallows of public opinion, in a nation where everyone is too apathetic to care. Where the nation and the media has not once held this group accountable for a period of time longer than 24 hours.

No, I'm sorry to say that you can't negotiate with them and you can't win. Please put your tray tables up and and your seat-back in a full upright position. We're going to attempt a crash landing.

MrObvious
MrObvious

And Media wonders if once more if x or y will lead to negotiations without explaining or determining why negotiation during bill payment time is not the norm and have only become the weapons of choice by a minority political power that cannot get things passed because we the people only gave them the house.

There's a reason.

And once more Media refuses to acknowledge that fact and our political system won't recognize it since it's held hostage by a fringe that can't be bothered with following democratic procedures.

I tell you this; a default won't just be political failure with ramification for us all.

It will be a failure of our fourth estate that insist on 'both sides do it' terrible reporting when for almost all questions there are only 1 true answer. Because this is not a question of - 'how did we get here'. That will only explain the sordid butthurt reactions of one powerless party abusing democratic processes because some of it members lack the fundamental understanding in representative democracy.

The true failure will be to not explain over and over why this is not something that have been contemplated before and if it ever was, what made that particular party give it up.

bobcn
bobcn

@angelicvh

"they are doing what the checks and balances of the Government are meant for..."

If you get your bill through both chambers of the Congress and then the President signs it (or Congress has the votes to override a presidential veto) then you get your way.  If you can't do that then you have the chance to convince more Americans to vote for your side at the next election.  That's how it works.  If you don't have the votes then you don't get your way.  Extortion by a dangerous minority in one 1/2 of 1/3 of the government is not 'checks and balances'.  A better description of what's happening (with the giddy enthusiasm of these people for damaging the functions of the people's government) would be to call it 'Treason'.

"Reduce the debt, come up with a workable plan. Please!"

How's this for a workable plan:  Stop wasting $300+ million a day with this idiotic republican shutdown.  At least $2.5 billion wasted already and we're still counting.


JoAnnePSparrow
JoAnnePSparrow

@angelicvh President Obama has reduced the debt (matter of public record).  Government is smaller than it has been in decades. Congress is holding a gun to the head of the American people. John Boehner, Speaker of the House can end this today by just putting the Clean CR on the floor for a vote, but he won't because he knows it will pass; there are currently 20 Republicans that said they would vote to pass it and he still won't bring it to the floor, even though he let 43 bills to defund the ACA to a cost of over 5.3 million taxpayer dollars! So, what's the big deal-let the bill go to the floor and this can be over in an hour!

tom.litton
tom.litton

@angelicvh From what i read reversing Obamacare now would be very disruptive to the insurance companies, and likely will cause premiums to go up.  

Besides democrats are counting on the people liking it once they have some experience with it.  The glitches should only take a month or 2 to fix.  I can see a 1 month delay, but they will never agree to a 1 year delay.   The republicans knew this and they still insisted on going forward with shutting down the government. 

He has said many times he is willing to negotiate after the short term (~month long) CR is passed and the debt ceiling is raised.  If the republicans were serious about negotiating, then they should attach a requirement to negotiate to the CR and debt ceiling raise.  The president has already said he would sign such a bill.

 Beyond that, the republicans will have to bring something the democrats want to the table if they want them to negotiate. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@angelicvh

Please President Obama, make your presidency your legacy in a good way, negotiate.

The only legacy that will provide is that he was the first president that allowed a minority to subvert a majority of peoples political will into the foreseeable future. Please, if you don't understand how our political process works, look it up. But when one side have asked the other to come to the negotiation table over the budget and that party ignored it to the very moment the bills need to be paid and use that to extort concession, then the question isn't really about willingness to negotiate.

It's the direct subversion of peoples majority consent to give the dems most of the power in our political system.

If that doesn't mean anything we only have tyranny of the minority and that's not a democratic process. That's 'politics' through temper tantrum with a gun to our economy.

What you're asking the president to do is to give up the political will a majority of people gave him. what you're asking for is anarchy where the loud and few dictates over our idea of consent. 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@angelicvh they are doing what the checks and balances of the Government are meant for

No they are not. The fact that you are willing to make that claim makes you an evil person. There's no escaping that little problem.


jason024
jason024

@angelicvh They are doing the opposite. You would have a point if this were the first time they were asked to negotiate but they were asked 19 times to come to the table before this mess. The senate and house both passed budgets. The House declined to attend meetings to discuss the issue because they wanted this shutdown for leverage. People's livelihoods and paychecks are hardly appropriate to use a leverage. There is a reason why the majority of Americans blame the GOP.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@KayNYC88 THAT was a pretty funny article...I'm assuming of course you realize it's fictitious?

JoAnnePSparrow
JoAnnePSparrow

@grape_crush I am actively trying to change that; I try to get young people involved in the political process, to understand and participate

JoAnnePSparrow
JoAnnePSparrow

@j45ashton President Barack Obama; STAND OUR GROUND! and thank you for informing the ignorant j45ashton-you're pretty cool

j45ashton
j45ashton

@destor23 So we shouldn't pay attention to the market at all because default is really not all that bad.  Got a bridge to sell me? (Or it is that the market is really reacting more toward GOP intransigence right now more than anything else?   In other words, ultimately, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.)  

 I guess everything is hunky-dory with your creditors when you don't pay your bills.  Funny how you tea-baggers tout fiscal responsibility when it comes to spending but you're not fiscally responsible enough to pay the bills when you think that serves your political purposes.

jmac
jmac

@MrObvious Kristoff had an op-ed  this Sunday on false equivalency.  The press is indeed to blame just as much as gerrymandering.   Their job is to inform the public,  not make sure they are being fair to the devil.  

MiamiNice57
MiamiNice57

@tom.litton @angelicvh the ACA is in effect. No preexisting clauses, kids can stay on parents insurance until 26. This economy (not that congress cares) has been lethal on the younger generation.


The shutdown cost taxpayers money look at history 17 years ago. It added to the deficeit. All over the FACT that the dems wanted to lower Mcare part b costs to seniors ($44.00) the gop want to and raised it to +$54.00.

Upstanding bunch those GOP's (SOB"S) take from the poor and give to the rich. 

Shut it down for 6 months or more.

Shut it down!!! Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!!Shut it down!!! 

angelicvh
angelicvh

@MrObvious @angelicvh Quite familiar thank you for your kind suggestion. Read the above, the evil displayed is not me for having my opinion, is just that is different than yours. 

angelicvh
angelicvh

@PaulDirks @angelicvh Wow and you don't even know me,  this is an argument correctly made, that the internet provides safety from facing people, and that there is just plain evil, but it isn't me. It is you.

reallife
reallife

@jason024 @angelicvh "The senate and house both passed budgets. The House declined to attend meetings to discuss the issue because they wanted this shutdown for leverage."


YOU LIE!


angelicvh
angelicvh

@jason024 @angelicvh  It is because they do not have all the information. When all you hear is one side, you can not make an informed vote.  I want the President to be success, but when you are punishing your constituency to make a point, it is not good leadership. There was no need to close parks, not fund WIC or any of the other stuff, the Republicans passed all of that, minus funding for Obamacare. There is so much more to this!! 

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@j45ashton @destor23 

In short term, markets will react - and especially over react - to nearly anything. For example, in Aug. 2007 Jim Cramer yelled at Erin Burnett (literally) about Ben Bernanke and Bill Poole about Bear Stearns on CNBC's Street Signs show. The market dropped immediately on his word alone. Not exactly a rational, efficient market at work there.

destor23
destor23

@j45ashton @destor23 Sorry, I was totally unclear.  What I mean is that the market is really not much of a political evaluation mechanism.  It weighs many things in the short and long term.  The market collapsed in summer of 2011 after the downgrade but then roared back, in effect leading some on the far right to believe that potential default is no big deal.  I think that was a dangerous lesson.  Of course, that isn't what the market was telling us but that's how it was interpreted.  So I would look to other ways of measuring policy.  I'm not a teabagger.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@angelicvh @MrObvious 

This is not a matter of different opinion; this is a matter of civics. It's the actual process of I would say all functional democracies.

Your opinion leads to dysfunctional democracies. It's not a matter of what you say and I say, it's a matter of historical data.

We're not having a theoretical discussion here. We're talking basic civics.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@angelicvh @PaulDirks I know that you are supporting people who are willingly putting the country at risk of default in order to thwart the will of 70 percent of Americans. I am quite comfortable judging that to be evil.


jason024
jason024

@angelicvh @jason024 You miss the BIGGER picture. Using the Debt Ceiling and Government as leverage should NEVER be considered nor should a precedent be established for future generations no matter what party you support. This is the reason the President is not budging on his demands because quite frankly, the GOP had EVERY opportunity to resolve this BEFORE the shutdown and should do what they are supposed to do. Yet chose to wait.

"There was no need to close parks, not fund WIC or any of the other stuff, the Republicans passed all of that"

Yes the GOP in an attempt to placate their constituents and relieve themselves of severe backlash while many more Americans are STILL left out b/c they want to use them as leverage. The people SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS LEVERAGE. There is a time to negotiate...after a temporary spending bill is passed and the debt ceiling is raised.


j45ashton
j45ashton

@deconstructiva @j45ashton @destor23 Agreed.  Absolutely.  Still, I know of at least one case where market reaction forced a board of directors to get rid of a CEO who was killing a major Fortune 100 company.  And that was a good thing.  Turned the company around.