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Monday, July 29, 2013

Govt. shutdown increasingly unlikely — which isn’t entirely good news

Closed sign in diner window
Sen. Ted Cruz is despairing of the chances his little band of deadenders have of using a hostage-taking scheme to defund Obamacare.

Political Wire: Said Cruz: “The problem right now is we don’t have Republicans willing to stand up and do this. We need 41 Republicans in the Senate or 218 Republicans in the House, to stand together, to join me, to join Mike Lee, to join Marco Rubio, all of whom have said, we will not vote for a single continuing resolution that funds even a penny of ObamaCare."

He added: “The current continuing resolution, which funds the government, expires Sept. 30. So now is the window: if we’re going to defund Obamacare, now is the time we can actually get it done."
So that’s the good news. The problem is that it defaults us back to the previous position, which is bad news:

Atlantic Wire: Though several Republicans have been threatening a big showdown over the debt limit and government funding with President Obama this fall, it’s possible that maybe we won’t approach total fiscal calamity this time. In an interview with The National Review’s Robert Costa, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sounds tough, but outlines what could be the outlines of a deal. And top Obama aides have been meeting with eight Senate Republicans to figure out a compromise on these issues, The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Kristina Peterson report. But there probably won’t be a longer-term “grand bargain."


McConnell warns Democrats, “The tax issue is over." But he suggests Republicans are open to preventing a second year of the sequester. “You want sequester relief? Then let’s talk about a reduction in entitlement spending," he says. “I think a place to talk is on things like chained CPI." Obama has already said he’d support chained CPI, which is a less generous way of calculating the cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits. McConnell also floats raising the age of eligibility for Medicare, which Democrats do not like. McConnell says, “In return for that, we could trade less spending reduction on the discretionary side, because we all know the biggest challenge is actually not on the discretionary side, but on entitlements. To me, that’s a better place to go in the fall than signaling that you’re open to raising taxes."
I’m not sure which is worse. But I can tell you one thing: a government shutdown would last for a few weeks, tops. Chained CPI is forever.

[photo by Nick Papakyriazis]

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