Wednesday, May 14, 2014

No country for old hostage-takers

Anyone else notice that its all quiet on the hostage-taking front lately?
As the saying goes, I'm old enough to remember when Republicans weren't simply content to obstruct anything President Obama tried to do. After awhile they started threatening to shut down the government and/or blow up the entire global economy if they didn't get what they wanted.

At first, President Obama used the opportunity to try to get a Grand Bargain on deficit reduction - including both increased revenue and spending cuts. But because he was so busy watching his back, Speaker Boehner said "no deal."

As a result, we went through a period of one hostage crisis after another...always walking up to the brink of the cliff before the Republicans figured out they'd have to negotiate a compromise.

And then President Obama said, "we're not playing that game any more." The Republicans went ahead and shut down the government and we skated within inches of passing by the debt ceiling. But because the President had constituently shown himself willing from the very beginning to work with Republicans, the American people were ready to end the game too. They blamed the Republicans - who eventually came to the table and worked out a bipartisan budget and debt ceiling deal.

Since then - no more hostage-taking.

Some might say that I'm speaking too soon. There is still work to be done on the 2015 budget and the current debt ceiling will need to be raised sometime around March 2015. But word is that the Republicans will forgo another government shutdown prior to the 2014 election and pass a continuing resolution this fall. After that, everyone will be gearing up for the 2016 presidential election and the last thing Republicans will want going into that one is another hostage crisis.

So I think its important that we mark the passing of this utterly destructive Republican strategy. The budget battles between Republicans and Democrats are sure to continue. But at least we won't have a gun to our heads next time.

Good riddance to bad politics. And well played, Mr. President.

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