Update #2: If you don’t know what the government-shutdown boys want, don’t be alarmed. Apparently they don’t know either, which can make negotiations, well, a little problematic.
Marlin Stutzman, conservative congressman from Indiana, became the poster legislator for the we-want-something-but-can’t-tell-you-what crowd when telling the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
Democrats have predictably spent the day mocking him. Harry Reid said he was sorry he “disrespected” Stutzman. Barack Obama got in his licks during a speech at a construction company in Rockville, Md.:
“Think about that,” he said of Stutzman’s quote. “You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There’s no higher honor than that. You’ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one, workers like these. So the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it.”
Update #1: Politico reports that there was a more eventful meeting earlier in the day among Republican senators who basically took turns asking Ted Cruz how he got them into this shutdown mess and how he thought they could get out of it. Not surprisingly, Cruz didn’t have an exit strategy. We’ve seen before how that works out.
Politico quoted one unnamed Republican senator as saying: “It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have an exit strategy — he never had an exit strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end game was. I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”
Selling snake oil? The bargains just keep on coming.
Original post: In other news, Obama met with the four Congressional leaders for well over an hour on the government shutdown and … nothing happened.
In fact, the most telling piece of intelligence from the meeting came just after it ended, when John Boehner met the press by himself, leaving everyone to wonder what had happened to Mitch McConnell. Was Obama holding him hostage? Had McConnell taken Dick Cheney’s advice and moved to an undisclosed location? Or was the Senate minority leader just hoping that no one noticed he was even involved in the fiasco? (McConnell finally showed up on the news shows to say that Obama, strangely, refused to gut his own law.)
After the meeting, Boehner accused Obama of refusing to negotiate, which is the latest GOP talking point. Meeting and talking are not the same as negotiating, of course. But the real question would be: Negotiate about what?
The budget showdown was never about the budget, since both sides agreed on the number. It wasn’t really about Obamacare, since no one seriously believed that Obama was going to defund or delay or de-anything else about Obamacare.
It was always about the right needing to fight. And, strangely, they’re still trying to figure out what they’re fighting about.
Now, the big news from the Republican caucus is that Boehner wants this resolved with a Grand Bargain. Yes, another one — apparently not like the other Grand Bargains he had negotiated without benefit of a government shutdown or turning us into a deadbeat nation. Of course, he had eventually turned down the other Grand Bargains. And it’s hard to understand how he could be bargaining anything if he keeps saying Obama refuses to, well, bargain.
According to Robert Costa, the well-connected writer for the National Review, Boehner met with moderates to persuade them to stick with him because of the bargain to come. And Paul Ryan — remember Paul Ryan? – is now telling nervous House members that, in Costa’s words, “they should be enthused about what they’re cooking up.”
I guess they should be – if they live in an alternate universe. According to Costa, this Grand Bargain wouldn’t include any taxes or additional revenues. It would include Obamacare delay, entitlement reform and, presumably, the assurance that all World War II veterans can visit any memorial at any time.
Why would the Dems turn that down?
It seems that so far they’ve resisted. After the meeting, Harry Reid called Obama “strong, strong, strong” when it seemed — with the early polls heavily favoring the president — like one “strong” was plenty. The Washington Post is suggesting, strongly, that the state that should be most upset about the shutdown is, yes, our very own state. Meanwhile, the panda cam is still off. Republicans are saying they’ll pay to keep the World War II monument open, but the Rocky Mountain National Park stays closed. The major glitch in the Obamacare exchanges so far — the ones the Republicans want to delay — is that the system is working too slowly, in part because too many people are trying to get online to check it out.
And so we begin Day 3 of the shutdown, with two weeks to possible default. Some bargain, huh?