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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Before details of a budget deal between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has even been announced, it is being opposed by two of the powerful right-wing groups that supported the “defund Obamacare” strategy that led to the last government shutdown — Heritage Action and FreedomWorks.

Heritage Action said in a statement on Monday that it “cannot support a budget deal that would increase spending in the near term for promises of woefully inadequate long-term reductions.”

Americans for Prosperity — the Koch-funded group that sat out of the recent shutdown drama — is also against the deal, which reportedly trades new fees and a sale of broadband spectrum in exchange for relief of at least part of the sequestration. Spending is expected to be just over $1 trillion, less than 1 percent more than the $967 billion level established under sequestration.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has also joined a group of about 20 House members who already oppose the deal that won’t be announced until at least Friday. And the right-wing media is apoplectic about the idea of giving up the sequester, which New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait calls “the frozen body of Han Solo hanging on the Republicans’ palace wall.”

The automatic budget cuts Republicans won in the 2011 debt limit crisis set spending levels for 2014 lower than Ryan envisioned in his first draconian budget, even though the fiscal cliff deal has since cut the deficit by more than $750 billion over 10 years.

With 20 votes already against the deal, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may have the support of a majority of his caucus he usually requires before bringing any bill to the floor. But he’ll likely need Democratic votes to keep the government open. To get these votes, Republicans need to agree to relieve the sequestration. But couldn’t the Democrats be asking for more?

For instance, shouldn’t they be demanding that emergency unemployment insurance be extended?

Both The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent and Salon‘s Brian Beutler assert that Democrats fear the House GOP could pass a continuing resolution at the sequester levels. This would leave the Senate in the position of accepting that bill or potentially being blamed for a government shutdown.

The question then becomes, would it hurt the Democrats to hold fast in defense of those who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks? There isn’t much polling that suggests the public favors extending unemployment now. But we do know from the last shutdown and the debt limit crisis of 2011 that these standoffs hurt both sides.

So now the question is: Who would be hurt more?

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • JD Mulvey

    If the Hastert Rule is off the table, then House Democrats need to decide what, if anything, their budget priorities are.

    Throwing a lifeline to the victims of the Republican war on the hungry and unemployed would be a good place to start.

  • Lynda Groom

    Einstein was correct. Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different results is insanity. The clown show is about to self-destruct yet again believing their own fantasies.

  • sigrid28

    After the last two weeks, in which even the pope has stood up for the needs of the poor and the out-of-luck, President Obama today spoke movingly for the second week in a row about the need to address inequality on a global scale, and all eyes are on the life story of Nelson Mandela who brought risk-taking to a new high in the pursuit of his ideals–how much more encouragement do Democrats and Independents in Congress need to take the reins out of the hands of the Republicans who are intentionally destroying our economy, with impunity? Why are they such cowards when it comes to standing up for their beliefs and the needs of their constituents, especially when they have everything to gain and nothing to lose? If the Republicans have their way and succeed in cutting desperately needed benefits to the unemployed and disadvantaged, while Democrats and Independents do nothing more this time than sit on their hands to save their jobs–after saving the ACA during the last crisis manufactured by Republicans–DEMOCRATS WILL LOSE ANYWAY their base will be so furious.

  • Stuart

    “A new Marist poll shows that 74 percent – about 3 in 4 Americans — disapprove of the job House Republicans are doing.”

    For crying out loud. Why do you guys keep citing national polls in House stories? National polls are utterly irrelevant to House members. If 99 percent of the nation opposes my policy but my district supports it, guess how I’m going to vote. Is this a difficult concept?

  • Montesquieu

    Liberty would be a meaningless term if it were defined by the whims and ever-changing will of fleeting majorities and their elected agents.