Today, a clean lift of the debt-limit ceiling was passed, with 193 Democrats and just 28 Republicans. It’s a big win for the president, and also a sign that his refusal to negotiate actually helped instill a sense of fatalism among the GOP ranks, or, as Noam Scheiber would have it, an end of collective delusion. I’m more struck by what the GOP considered as bargaining chips for maintaining American solvency in only the last few weeks:
Republicans considered attaching language to change Obamacare, construct the Keystone XL pipeline, update the Medicare reimbursement rate and reverse recent cuts to military pensions. Each time leadership floated something new, the rank and file shot it down. On Monday, in a meeting in the Capitol, they settled on a 13-month debt limit increase alongside language to reverse retirement benefits for the military and create a fund to facilitate the long-term reform of the Medicare reimbursement rate for physicians. But later Monday, GOP leadership realized they wouldn’t have enough support. On Tuesday morning, Boehner announced during a meeting at the Capitol Hill Club that he would seek to pass a clean debt limit increase.
This is the party that wants to be seen as an alternative. It is rather, an unpredictable cauldron of crazy now grasping for more than the House. Perhaps it will win the Senate on a wave of Obamacare hysteria and opposition. But its conduct in the House does not bode well for coherent governing. They’re for immigration reform but not really. They want to repeal Obamacare but their only alternative covers way fewer people, and makes coverage for pre-existing conditions dependent on continuous coverage in a labor market far from anything close to full employment. They oppose a deal with Iran but remain fearful of persuading Americans of the need for another war in the Middle East. They now agree the Iraq War was a disaster but refuse to take ownership of the mistake. Today was another meep-meep for Obama, but a continuing weep-weep for the country.
On the Dish, we noted the remarkable popularity of that unsung institution: the public library. We gagged at Putin embracing Tchaikovsky and a lesbianish pop duo. We proffered an answer to the great theodicy question. And an epic window view contest started out in North Jersey and ended in deepest Russia. I opposed a Christianism of the left; and argued that the key question before Francis’ church remains contraception – the debate the hierarchy has decisively lost across the globe since 1968.