I was going to write this piece until I realized that Ed Kilgore had already written it almost word for word.
It’s why I hold Grover Norquist at least as responsible for the current crisis in Washington DC as Ted Cruz or the Tea Party.
If the Republicans were willing to raise taxes on rich people ever, for any purpose, then they could make a deal with the president on reducing the deficit and getting our debt under control. But they are not willing to raise taxes on rich people ever, for any purpose, and so they cannot negotiate at all.
Since they cannot negotiate, they cannot come to any agreement with the Senate on a budget. And since they cannot agree to a budget, they have to shut the government down.
In this sense, ObamaCare is almost a distraction. If it didn’t exist, the Republicans would still be unable to break their pledge to Norquist and they would still be unable to make a deal with the Senate.
They can’t make a deal, but they don’t even want to spell out what they are demanding because their agenda is less popular than the ebola virus. So, they want to force the president to make cuts to entitlements without giving anything in return, and then they will blame the president for the cuts.
Basically, there is nothing that we can give the Republicans that they want to accept, and there is nothing that they will offer that we have even the slightest reason to accept.
What this crisis is doing is exposing the Republicans’ internal dilemma. And it is taking away the cloak that they have used to hide the fact that they can’t make any offer or accept any offer. Once they are forced to go to a budget conference committee, they will be forced to vote on what they want and accept compromises. They will have to break their Norquist pledge and accept increased funding for the president’s priorities. They will have to explicitly ask for and vote for highly unpopular cuts to programs that serve their elderly base. They do not want to do those things and they have been trying to avoid doing those things all year long.
The truth is, the party as a party can’t live with itself.