Come crisis time, it’s the time-tested method for playing it safe. You issue a mealy-mouthed statement about how “both sides are to blame” for not reaching a deal. You say both Democrats and Republicans need to compromise, and you claim magnanimity in your support of a “balanced” compromise. You write “Come together” on your coffee cup.
But this time around, that’s all nonsense. Where you place blame for the shutdown depends entirely on how you answer its fundamental question: Do Republicans have the right to demand policy concessions — namely, Obamacare concessions — in exchange for extending the federal budget?
If you believe that Republicans deserve policy concessions, then responsibility for the shutdown rests entirely with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Obama, and their fellow Democrats.
After all, when it comes to Obamacare, the run-up to shutdown saw House Republicans take big steps toward compromise. They started the debate demanding Obamacare be entirely defunded. Then they moved to a request that the health care law be delayed a year and its medical-device tax permanently repealed. And by their third and fourth attempts, Republicans were attacking only the law’s subsidies for Congress and the administration — a crucial aspect for beltway residents, but a purely symbolic blow on the national level.
All of them, from gutting the law to pricking it, got the exact same reaction from Reid: no deal.
But if you believe Republicans are responsible for keeping the government open, and they don’t deserve any policy perks for doing so, then the shutdown blame is theirs and theirs alone.
Within that paradigm, Republicans are demanding something for nothing. They’re demanding changes to Obamacare without offering to back any of Democrats’ top policy priorities. No gay marriage, no gun control, no higher tax rates for the highest earners, no public option, no nothing.
And from a purely fiscal perspective, the policy-free budget extension is a straight-down-the-middle compromise. It doesn’t include the further spending cuts Republicans covet, nor does it include any Democratic priorities such as additional funding for domestic programs or a reverse of the sequester.
So you can believe that Republicans forced a shutdown by taking the government hostage to muscle through changes they couldn’t get through regular order. Or you can blame Democrats for refusing to make any changes whatsoever to Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open.
But you can’t blame them both.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."