July 13, 2011

Negotiations in D.C.

I be hyp-mo-tized by the game of chicken played by the political parties in Washington of late concerning the issue of raising of the debt ceiling.

It reminds me of the passage of Obamacare in that you have some segment of the House who are free men, free women, willing to fall on their swords and die a political death, such as my own former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy who was cast out after casting her vote.

Free men and women such as these scare the powers that be since few in power can understand someone who puts something ahead of politics. These free agents, by virtue of their courage, are perceived as very powerful and thus the Republicans think they have the whip hand. The Republican leaders can point to their base, with much credibility, and say they can't raise taxes.

The Democrats also think they have the whip hand, and that's why this is such a gothically intense scenario. Democrats, not without reason, think that Republicans will be blamed for any shutdown since Republicans are perceived as the fiscal discipline party and the Dems as the party for "letting it all hang out". People will hear of a shutdown and think the party for letting it all hang out couldn't be responsible for this.

Michelle Bachmann fascinates in part because she says she wouldn't vote for the debt ceiling increase under any scenario, which is tantamount to something like an immediate 40% cut in federal spending. It's fascinating to see someone that reckless with an "R" next to their name. Having seen so many RINOS in my day, Bachmann is sort of like an exotic zoo animal that you didn't even know existed.

Perhaps you need extremes in order to alter the location of the political center. One of the most powerful lobbies in Washington is the National Rifle Association. And what's interesting is how the NRA positions are extreme, presumably in order to protect against creeping gun control. They are masters at protecting against that slippery slope, of adhering to principle over pragmatism. Similarly NARAL is very powerful, and they are extreme in protecting the right to kill children. It does seem as though the mark of a good lobbying organization is extremism. Bachmann and others like her seem like their own lobbying organization.

Tea partiers understand that this feels like a moment, a now-or-never moment, since we've learned that the only time the budget gets cut is with divided gov't, and it's pretty divided right now. 2012 might be too late, since we may have a Republican president and congress, which experience teaches is a negative.

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