Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can't Hold Back The Tide

As we swim through hundreds of stories daily, some days are more difficult than others to keep our heads above the metaphorical waterline. From Major League Baseball's possible lifetime ban of Alex Rodriguez, to George Zimmerman being stopped in Texas for speeding (with a gun in his car, of course), to the latest NSA hearing, and the continually less civil intra-party GOP war, Wednesday's pool of stories kept us from getting as much accomplished as we would have liked.

Thankfully though, a few things did get done in Washington, DC yesterday.

For once, the House did something shocking, by actually doing something. The lower chamber voted overwhelmingly to pass a bipartisan deal to keep student loan interest rates low, in the short term, while raising the rates later on. Frankly, we think some House members were willing to say yes to almost anything, just so they could get out of chambers and get their free Jamba Juice smoothies. Still - if that's what it takes to get Congress to actually do something, we know a certain PR person in DC that we're fairly sure would be willing to give out free smoothies every day.

There were also some meetings between Congressional Democrats and the President, and Speaker Boehner and House Republicans on Wednesday - and both get-togethers dealt partially with Obamacare.

Even with rising levels of Democratic frustration and serious opposition to President Obama trying to stuff Larry Summers in as new chief of the Fed, we'd much rather be dealing with the Democratic side of the DC divide than being part of the metaphorical drainplug that is the Republican Party right now.

As Greg Sargent noted on Wednesday, Speaker Boehner insisted in his meeting that House Republicans' plan to shut down the government in order to stop Obamacare will work. Privately, however, it's obvious that Boehner does not want to shut down the government over Obamacare - and neither do some key allies of Boehner in the Senate.

One such ally, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, even commissioned a report from the Congressional Research Service about government shutdowns and Obamacare. As Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post reported and Wonkblog's Sarah Kliff confirmed, the CRS made it clear: Even if Republicans shut down the government, certain agencies tasked with implementing Obamacare will still keep floating along.

That may not be the case for either Speaker Boehner or the GOP.

As Steve Benen pointed out, Boehner can't even seem to understand polls that say how much he's disliked right now. That isn't surprising in light of a new poll from Pew Research which confirmed that Republican voters can't even decide what direction they want their party to go, or who they want to lead. The only thing Republicans seem to agree on is that they're mad.

Frankly, we don't disagree with them on that, though we're almost certain their definition of mad and ours aren't quite the same thing in this case.

After all, when it's obvious to any sane observer that a specific political party has permanently lost the policy battle on a specific issue like universal health care insurance, why would that party's leader keep pretending to fight for that lost cause? That's especially true if the people surrounding that leader will crucify the leader if they find out about the betrayal.

Trying to stop progress from flowing forward is like trying to stop the ocean from flowing through a seawall - and we're very glad we're not the ones stuck in the metaphorical drainhole.

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