John Boehner's latest move in the political chess game from Hell has moved us deeper into the fiery pit. Even Dante would be shocked.
When House Republicans were threatening to shut down the federal government last week, their aim was to exact concessions from Democrats on Obamacare. President Obama and Democratic lawmakers refused to pay the ransom. So on midnight on Monday, the GOP gambit failed, and the government shut down. Moderate Republicans leapt up the next day to try to end the ridiculous, harmful, shameful abrogation of legislative responsibility, but their efforts were for naught.
Rather than allow a vote on a budget free of Obamacare-meddling tricks, John Boehner has been devoting his time to trying to save face. And today, after his meeting with fellow House Republicans, Boehner came out in what is either a mock huff or truly deranged anger:
House Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting on Friday with no new strategy to end the budget standoff and an angry plea to President Obama to negotiate over his health care law.
“This isn’t some damned game,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, his voice rising in anger. “The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a discussion, reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
Notice first how the rhetoric has subtly changed. Rather than end or delay Obamacare, the Speaker now professes to "bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare." And instead of working to end the impasse by simply letting the House vote on a clean bill, Boehner is proposing micro-bills to reopen parts of the federal government that people really want to see open up, like "the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and nutrition services for women, infants and children." Their perverse hope is to blame Obama and the Democrats for failing to reopen these agencies, but the White House, thank goodness, is having nothing of it:
“The administration strongly opposes House passage of piecemeal fiscal year 2014 appropriations legislation that restores only very limited activities,” the veto message said. “Consideration of appropriations bills in this fashion is not a serious or responsible way to run the United States government. Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should reopen all of the government.”
When the shutdown began, most commentators thought it would be resolved within a couple of days. A few days later, the exit strategy for the GOP is looking narrower and narrower.