It’s best to expectations very low, but President Obama will at least try to broker some kind of end to the government shutdown this afternoon.
NBC News confirms that John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will be meeting at the White House at 5:30 p.m.
According to a White House official, Obama will urge the House to pass a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government, and will call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling. Both Democratic and GOP leadership accepted the invitation.
“We’re pleased the president finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible,” said Boehner spokesperson Brendan Buck in a statement. “It’s unclear why we’d be having this meeting if it’s not meant to be a start to serious talks between the two parties.”
I’m going to hope that Brendan Buck is playing dumb, because the alternative is that the Speaker of the House’s top spokesperson actually believes his own nonsense.
To say that Democrats aren’t negotiating is to be divorced from reality at a nearly pathological level. Democrats have already abandoned every policy priority they want to accept a center-right spending bill – identical to the one House Republicans embraced earlier this year – that enjoys bipartisan support, and which would end the shutdown today if brought to the House floor for a vote. Does Brendan Buck not understand this? Is he new to U.S. politics?
As for the nature of “negotiations,” Democrats have urged Republicans to begin budget talks for the last six months, with Republicans refusing literally every request. Is Brendan Buck aware enough of current events to recognize these basic details? If not, why not?
For the last 36 hours or so, the GOP line is that they’re now eager to talk to Democrats about the budget, and can’t imagine why Dems won’t join them at the negotiating table. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reached out to Boehner today – with a letter and in a phone call – saying the moment Republicans end their shutdown, budget talks can begin. Boehner again refused because, well, it’s not clear why. Apparently the Speaker wants the government to be shut down.
As for the Republicans’ broader posture, it’s genuinely remarkable. After forgetting what “compromise” means, GOP lawmakers now seem confused by what “negotiate” means.
According to GOP leaders, they’ve already made concessions – they’re no longer demanding that Congress defund the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. This, from their deeply strange perspective, is a concession.
This shouldn’t be necessary, but Judd Legum made clear today what Republicans are simply incapable of understanding.
Republicans continue to insist, in a way that makes me think they’re not kidding, that Democrats insist on getting “everything they want.” That’s idiotic – Democrats don’t like their own conservative offer – but in Legum’s model, it makes some sense. Republicans want Democrats to identify which part of their own house they’re willing to let Republicans destroy, and they simply can’t imagine why Dems won’t answer the question in a way right-wing lawmakers find satisfactory.
I’ll try and make this plan for GOP lawmakers: if you’re going to take Americans’ health care benefits away, you’ll need to win more elections.