As word reaches us that Boehner is on the verge of doing the only sensible thing he can do at this point, a Mother Jones article explains some of the reasoning for Harry Reid’s preference for a short-term CR and debt ceiling deal:
Democrats want to replace the economy-crimping sequester with a less austere plan that includes more targeted cuts and higher total spending levels. Reid is okay with extending current sequester-level spending—but only until mid-January, so a broader budget deal that includes Democratic priorities can be worked out before deeper spending cuts go into effect. If the House somehow forces a longer-term deal, it would be much harder for Reid and Democrats to negotiate a substitute for the sequester, say, six months from now because the fiscal year (which began October 1) would be half over. That would mean that the current deep budget cuts, which have already resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, would likely drag on and on.
Reid does not want a deal that un-shuts the government to prevent him from waging a fight over sequestration. In September, he says, he agreed to a temporary continuing resolution that would keep the US government open for two months at the spending levels dictated by sequestration, and considered that a concession to House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans. He did so with the expectation that he could still try to undo some of the consequences of sequestration in the 2014 budget. And with the House Republicans now on the ropes in the dual shutdown/debt ceiling crisis, he has seen his leverage increase and has pushed for the chance to wage another battle over sequestration.
This is absolutely accurate, but it’s only part of the reasoning driving Reid’s actions.
Think about this: February 2014 is nine months from November 2014.
What happens in November 2014? These things called “midterm elections”.
The Suicide Caucusers driving this may feel “safe”, but the other Republicans don’t want to be spending 2014 getting blamed for shutting down the government and trashing the nation’s credit rating again and again and again. They would much rather do everything in their power to make sure the talks in January and February proceed smoothly. They don’t want their constituents to be reminded three months from now — three months closer to Election Day — of the events of the past few weeks, just when those memories had started to fade. And they really don’t want a third reminder in, say, May — even closer to Election Day.
As for the groups like Heritage that have planned and pushed this manufactured disaster, this is going to be the point where future political historians will say that these groups undercut themselves and their political power by an act of unbelievably stupid overreaching.
Heritage, under Jim DeMint’s psychotic leadership, had even before this managed to get itself banned from the official House Republican Study Committee’s strategy sessions because of its messed-up and contradictory pushes; its power over any legislator who isn’t already a Suicide Caucus member has been greatly diminished. And FreedomWorks is in even worse shape, because in addition to pushing this shutdown disaster they’ve been bankrupting themselves propping up Glenn Beck and scraping up $8 million in go-away money for their former leader Dick Armey (who by the way has opposed their shutdown push, probably because he actually was a sitting member of Congress in 1995 and 1996 and has a functioning memory).
As for the Suicide Caucusers these groups back, any of these mokes that survive next year’s elections will be permanently relegated to backbencher status, especially if the House flips back to the Democrats. Suicide Caucus fellow traveler Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) in particular has got to be watching the off-year Virginia elections quite closely right now. Those are coming up in less than three weeks, and the shutdown’s already all but guaranteed that the Governor’s Mansion goes back into Democratic hands; it’s probably also going to make a noticeable cut into the GOP’s majority in the House of Delegates and the only reason it won’t cut any deeper is because so many incumbents are running unopposed this year.