StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between



Nuclear Option Increases Chances Of Another Shutdown, Sequestration

22 Nov 2013
Posted by Stan Collender

By changing it's rules yesterday to prevent filibusters on executive branch and judicial nominees (other than the Supreme Court) -- the so-called nuclear option -- the Senate further complicated a federal budget debate that was already overly complicated and had little chance of success.

Although it's still less likely than likely, the prospects for a government shutdown in January increased significantly. Based on yesterday's action, I have increased the possibility that funding for the federal government will not be adopted by the time the current continuing resolution expires to 40 percent.

And the likelihood for sequestration to occur as scheduled in mid-January also jumped significantly.

Here's why.

1. In general terms, the federal budget debate in recent years has always been more emotional than rational and far more political than substantive. The emotions and politics were significantly ramped up yesterday.

2. Although the rules change was not about either the budget or the House, both almost immediately were affected by what was done in the Senate. The first big legislation-related deadline following the adoption of the nuclear option will be December 13, the date by which the budget conferees are supposed to develop an agreement.

The second big date will be January 15, when the current continuing resolution will expire.

The third will be January 18, when the sequester is scheduled to occur unless Congress and the White House agree to an alternative.

In other words, the most immediate legislative impact of the nuclear option, and the first chance for retribution by the GOP, will be on the budget.

3. It's hard to imagine how the House and Senate Republican members of the budget conference committee will feel any more inclined to compromise with Democrats on tax and spending issues now that the nuclear option has been adopted. In other words, a negotiation that was already in serious trouble, has now been further complicated.

4. I have talked for several years about how the tea party sees working with Democrats (and some non tea party Republicans) as collaborating with the enemy. It thinks of compromise in religious terms...as "a sin."

The Senate's action yesterday didn't just reconfirm that to the tea partiers, it almost certainly exacerbated it. If they didn't before, the tea party certainly now thinks of the Democrats either as a tool of the devil or the devil incarnate.

5. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is leading the budget conference committee for the GOP, had been hoping to demonstrate his leadership by putting together the deal that everyone lese thought impossible. The assumption by the House leadership was that Ryan could bring the previously recalcitrant tea partiers along because of the personal esteem they have for him.

But given what happened yesterday, that esteem will be put in serious jeopardy if Ryan makes a deal with the Senate Democratic devils. Indeed, Ryan's prospects as a GOP presidential nominee or candidate for House speaker or Ways and Means Committee chairman -- all of which he supposedly is interested in -- will be seriously damaged if he makes a deal with Satan that is considered less than total capitulation. Given how unlikely that is to happen, Ryan's ability to negotiate was seriously damaged and that truly hurts the prospects for any kind of agreement, including one that stops the sequester.

This is Silly

You and other commentators write this stuff as if it's in a vacuum. Where have you been since 2009?

Cons will not allow any budget that increases taxes. Dems are not going to do a budget that lowers spending w/o revenue. So a compromise is in order and dems would compromise but cons will not.

Anyone watching politics in Washington that believes a con controlled white house, senate and/or house would not move to consolidate power has not watched the con movement over the last decade.

This made it worse? Do you also believe in the tooth fairy. When will you guys quit giving the most radical folks in the world a false equivalency?


Thanks dpack

This is on target all right. Collender is usually astute, but the filibuster vote made no difference to how the conservatives are going to act and at least may get the judiciary slightly more functional. And yes, it is absolutely foolish to believe that conservatives won't use every ounce of power they can get -- yet they always complain when others try to do that and bemoan it.

What's unbelievable is how generally feeble Democrats especially the president are. Power is no good if you won't use it -- something conservatives know very well and are constantly trying to buffalo others about.


Sequester Rules

Even before the Nuke, McConnell was campaigning to retain the sequester. The Tea Party likes the sequester. They don't like foreign adventures, so they don't have problem cutting the military.

The only thing the Tea Party would like better than the sequester is a shift of some of the defense cuts onto cuts of domestic spending and to end Obamacare. Perhaps they would like even more tax cuts.

Any deal the Dems would make would be worse than the sequester, so sequester it will be.

Did the Senate Nuke make things worse? Probably not. There is no common ground. The House and Senate remain miles apart. Only a wave election can impact the stalemate.


Regarding #3, you can't have

Regarding #3, you can't have a p-value less than .0 so nothing lost.

Regarding #4, you can't have a p-value greater than 1 so again, nothing lost.

Regarding #5, given the number of right-wing anti-Ryan ads that we've been seeing (Mrs. Schadenboner and I are in the Milwaukee media market which means we get most Racine- and Kenosha-directed ads, covering the 4th CD) Ryan was already less-than-likely to actually make a good faith attempt to actually accomplish anything.


To some extant, filibustering

To some extant, filibustering nominees provided a relatively non-important "safety valve" for the minority party in the Senate to express its displeasure with the administration. So with that gone, Senators will show their displeasure in more functional ways. But the Senate is not really the roadblock in budget negotiations.

To echo what Bahko said above, the fundamental miscalculation that brought us the sequester is the fact that the Democrats didn't realize the extant to which the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is isolationist rather than hawkish. And they tend to be from districts without large military bases or contractors. So threatened cuts to DoD simply didn't motivate them to bargain in the way it motivates old line republicans.


Interesting political blog

Interesting political blog you have here, thanks for sharing these posts :)


There is no common ground.

There is no common ground. The House and Senate remain miles apart. Only a wave election can impact the stalemate.


To echo what Bahko said above

To some extant, filibustering nominees provided a relatively non-important "safety valve" for the minority party in the Senate to express its displeasure with the administration. So with that gone, Senators will show their displeasure in more functional ways. But the Senate is not really the roadblock in budget negotiations.

To echo what Bahko said above, the fundamental miscalculation that brought us the sequester is the fact that the Democrats didn't realize the extant to which the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is isolationist rather than hawkish. And they tend to be from districts without large military bases or contractors. So threatened cuts to DoD simply didn't motivate them to bargain in the way it motivates old line republicans.


Anyone watching politics in

Anyone watching politics in Washington that believes a con controlled white house, senate and/or house would not move to consolidate power has not watched the con movement over the last decade

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