‘A small ask’

Updated

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MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had an interesting chat yesterday with Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) about the government shutdown, and the congressman shared a perspective that deserves more attention. Indeed, Jonathan Capehart noted that this exchange in particular left him “slack-jawed.”

DUFFY: You were asking me about the larger issue of why can’t people resolve this government shutdown. And we have been incredibly reasonable, making a small ask. And if the president –

MITCHELL: Do you consider it a small ask that he get rid of the central part of his health care plan that was upheld by the vote of a presidential election and the United States Supreme Court?

DUFFY: Andrea, hold on. That’s your spin.

Now, Mitchell was simply reminding the Republican lawmaker about some basic facts. That’s not “spin”; that’s a little something many of us like to call “reality.”

But what’s truly amazing is Duffy’s apparent belief that he and his far-right colleagues have been “incredibly reasonable,” offering nothing but “a small ask.”

I’ll confess that I don’t expect much in the way of substance from Sean Duffy, but his delusional perspective helps capture a larger problem among congressional Republicans.

Let’s not forget that Democratic and Republican leaders effectively reached a deal: they’d forgo other priorities and accept a center-right spending bill that would keep the government open for a while. Then House Republican members said that sounded great, just so long as Democrats also defunded the Affordable Care Act, election results be damned.

In Rep. Duffy’s mind, this is evidence of being “incredibly reasonable” and making “a small ask.”

When Dems balked, House Republicans said they wanted both their preferred spending levels and a delay in health care benefits for millions of Americans for a year, just because the GOP feels like it, plus restrictions on contraception access.

“Incredibly reasonable” and “a small ask.”

When Dems balked again, House Republicans said they wanted both their preferred spending levels and a delay in a key provision of the law, plus higher costs on health care benefits for congressional employees.

When Dems balked again, House Republicans said they wanted both their preferred spending levels and vague negotiations in which GOP officials would neither offer nor accept any concessions.

When GOP leaders ponder why it is they’re getting blamed for this fiasco, I hope they’ll take a moment to reflect on what they consider “incredibly reasonable” and “a small ask,” because they don’t appear to be speaking the same language as everyone else.

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Sean Duffy

'A small ask'

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