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 Then they moved to a request that the health care law be delayed a year and its medical-device tax permanently repealed.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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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."