Profile in Courage, 2013 edition: Boehner promises to do the right thing to avoid default

First, I want to applaud Speaker John Boehner for promising to do the right thing, at least with regard to a default that could devastate the world economy:

With a deadline for raising the debt limit fast-approaching, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has been telling colleagues in recent days that he will do whatever necessary to avoid defaulting on the federal debt, including relying on House Democrats to help pass an extension, according to GOP aides familiar with the conversations…

But after I’m done applauding the speaker for his courage, let’s have a moment of silence to mourn how low the “courage” bar is these days.

What that says is that the speaker of the House promises he will work with all of his willing colleagues, regardless of party, for the sake of the nation — to make sure that a terrible, needless thing does not happen to the country and the world.

That should be business as usual. Once upon a time, it would have been (in support of that statement, I submit the fact that the United States has never before defaulted in its 237-year history).

But today — and this just makes me sick — it’s extraordinary. In the U.S. House Republican caucus, it is seen as political suicide to work with Democrats, even on something of critical importance to the country.

So yay, Mr. Speaker. And here’s hoping and praying that we’ll live to see the day when this sort of behavior is once again sufficiently common that we have no reason to take note of it…

38 thoughts on “Profile in Courage, 2013 edition: Boehner promises to do the right thing to avoid default

  1. bud

    This is a red letter day on the Brad Blog. Here we have an unambiguous proclamation that it is one party at fault in this whole utterly ridiculous shutdown nonsense. The Tea-Party has whined like a bunch of babies on this. And yet they try to push their messaging stunts to make it appear that the Dems are the bad guys. They sit on one side of a table with empty chairs as props to make it appear that THEY are the ones who are ready to negotiate a budget. (What is it with Republicans and empty chairs). Then we have these former ‘doctors’ turned GOP congressmen parading in front of cameras pretending to care for the sick. Now that would be a first. And perhaps worst of all was the GOP congressman from Texas berating a female park ranger for the unspeakable crime of doing her job. (She handled it very professionally, by the way). Thankfully he was called out for that disgusting display.

    But I will give these Jihadists props for this, they sure know how to play the messaging game. Given how they don’t now have nor have they ever had any meaningful, productive message to offer the American people it is simply astonishing that they can continue to sell their snake oil to the gullible voters in this country. They are masters at the art of deception. But masters of little else.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      The extreme right lives inside its Faux News bubble. They eschew credible news sources as the Lamestream Media. No wonder the GOP has been able to spin with some traction. [can you actually do that?]

      1. Juan Caruso

        “The extreme right lives inside its Faux News bubble” -KF

        No worse than this Faux fact from a former “Lamestream media” editor:

        “I submit the fact that the United States has never before defaulted in its 237-year history).” Brad W.

        I would ask independent voters to consider who and how default was averted last time their was a budget impasse during the Obama regime. While technically true, Brad’s one-liner above distorts what actually happened and would happen again.

        Rather, Brad’s omission (rewriting of history) follows the Lamestream media’s propagandistic goal of making the public fearful so Harry Reid, the Senator who thinks tea party citizens deserve zero representation in the House, gets to control both the Senate and the House.

        Fact: In Nevada this year more voters have been registering as independents than as Democratichs or Republichans combined.

        1. Scout

          I’m having a real hard time discerning your point.

          You acknowledge that Brad’s statement is “technically true” but say it is a “faux fact”. You can’t have it both ways. As long as it remains true, it remains a plain old fact.

          You claim that Brad’s one-liner somehow distorts or misrepresents what happened the last time the debt ceiling was raised. You claim that he omitted something (what please?) and tried to rewrite history and this is linked to some obscure motive involving Harry Reid, the tea party, and independents. Whatever link you were going for here is not at all clear to me.

          The point I got from Brad’s post was that the fact that we have never defaulted before now is because congresspeople in the past knew how to prioritize, respect differences, compromise, and otherwise act like grown ups to serve the needs of the country.

          What happened the last time default was narrowly avoided, (in my own estimation, since you don’t say what about this you are referring to) was that for the most part democrats more than republicans were the ones behaving like grownups and compromised to prevent default. But that doesn’t seem to be your point, so I remain confused.

          And the relative number of independents in Nevada plays into this because??????

          1. Juan Caruso

            The rhetoric during the prior budget impasse was the same as now. Did we ever default? Of course not. Will we this time? Very, very doubtful.

            What avoided default last time? The Fed (Bernanke).
            How did he do it? He merely clarified the drop-dead date and created an extension. So are you going to make the same mistake AGAIN, Scout, and believe Oct 17th is the actual drop dead date this time? If you are, this is the last time I will be answering any of your lengthy questions.

          2. Silence

            @ Juan,
            We’ve actually defaulted several times in the nation’s history. Not that I am recommending it as a course of action right now, though.

          3. Juan Caruso

            Silence, I understand what you are saying. What I do not understand is why you would challenge me, instead of Brad W. on the unfounded, partisan premise he kind of quoted. Still, opinions are always sunbect to verifiable facts and I stand corrected for my foolish assumption that even the first half of Brad’s position was fundamentally true. Thank you!

            “I submit the fact that the United States has never before defaulted in its 237-year history).” Brad W.

            Technically true, as I said. The “exceptions” cited by CNN and NYT hardly agree with each other (although the latter instance might be impossible to refute).

  2. Norm Ivey

    A courageous man would be willing to risk political defeat for the best interest of the country. Boehner’s fear of his extreme right is sickening. At this point, it is his refusal to buck his party that is keeping the government shut down. I doubt he will demonstrate much greater courage as we approach the debt ceiling.

    1. Juan Caruso

      Boehner fear “his extreme right” as much as you apparently do. Boehner is a R.I.N.O.-lawyer
      without a conservative bone (he has a bad one) in his back. In 2011 he pretended the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was “one of our highest legislative priorities.”

      What is at stake for him can hardly be more obvious. He will not be speaker again and he may not even be elected again if the tea party opposes him. More than likely, he is worried about getting a high-paying career with tobacco industry lobbyists. Can you imagine his anxiety?

  3. Karen McLeod

    Kathryn, if your wheels spin with some traction they can throw an amazing amount of mud, which is the only thing the Republican party seems to be good at these days. Now in addition to deciding who is the least bad in an election, one has to factor in the ‘lemming’ factor. A person may have some good ideas, but if he/she is willing to follow his party anywhere, then that person does not need to be in office.

  4. Bart

    Before the proclamation is made official that the problems in Washington and the nation are squarely on the shoulders of Republicans, it may be a good idea to read Andy Brack’s column today. Even the normally reliable liberal Andy Brack is fed up with both sides of the aisle and for everyone living in a bubble, apparently the entire nation is coming around to the same conclusion.

    He has finally reached the same conclusion most sensible people reached a long time ago. There is a vacuum in the leadership positions on both sides beginning with the president down to the most junior member of the House. The ideoligical lines in the sand are unfortunately all too real for the American people and in the end when the group serving in Washington now leaves, they will not suffer the same impact financially or otherwise the average American will. A few may have some regrets but I seriously doubt it.

    Republicans, instead of letting ACA go and let it “sink or swim” on its own merits, are holding fast to an impossible position and in the end, they will lose. Not only the fight but the hearts of most of America. With the exception of Fox opinion shows and right wing talk radio, there are no other news outlets offering any support or positive spin on their position at all. It is not that I disagree with them in principal because it is essential that a democracy has an open dialogue on something as important as ACA. Whether it takes place now or in the future after the program has had time to work things out, trying to defund or repeal it in part or completely is an exercise in futility. And right or wrong, the perception of holding anyone hostage to make a point is not appealing to voters and Republicans failed to get the message across to the public even though the majority is still opposed to full implementation of ACA.

    Democrats are “locked in” with ACA and as Candy Crowley’s point was well made, Obama has nothing to lose by standing firm. He is not up for re-election and the strident position of Republicans is giving the Democrat party the opportunity to become a super majority in congress in 2014 and assume control of Washington for years to come. If the Republicans do not come together as a cohesive unit and simply walk away from ACA and declare they have no part of it and allow it to continue as is, they will not only lose the battle but the war as well. Obama, Reid, Peolosi, Schumer, and other Democrat leaders have made it clear they will not move or budge on ACA even to the point of agreeing to convene a review panel at a later date. So, in turn, the Democrat position can be viewed as being just as stringent as the Republican position.

    Obama is willing to negotiate on nuclear arms with Russia but won’t negotiate with Republicans on ACA. I know the two are not the same but the principle most certainly is. He is willing to negotiate with Syria on chemical weapons but not with Republicans on ACA. Again, not the same but the same principle applies. When is it more important to be willing to negotiate on chemical weapons and give concessions that allow someone like Assad to remain in power but will not make the same offer to the opposition at home? Self defeating if nothing else unless you have a distinct advantage and would prefer to see the problems continue to gain political advantage instead of doing what was your main campaign theme, working together. If Obama, et al would offer to convene a review panel and if Republicans refuse the offer, then let the chips fall where they may and let the Republican leadership answer after the electoral bloodbath in 2014.

    Should Democrats take absolute control of Washington and America, that is the worst case scenario that could happen to this country. When just one party has total control, as the saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and unrestricted power in the hands of one political party is a recipe for a disaster. I would never want to see Republicans in complete control any more than I would care to see Democrats in complete control.

    All we need to do is look no further than South Carolina for a prime example of one party control or other states where Democrats or Republicans have a super majority control of state government.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Democrats, and everybody else, is locked in on ACA, on account of , like, it’s a law. Of course laws can be changed, but that takes longer than our economy has, even if the will were there. Add in that ACA is actually quite popular, outside the ultra-right wing bubble, and…..

    1. Bart

      “Democrats, and everybody else, is locked in on ACA, on account of , like, it’s a law.”…Kathryn

      Please don’t, as the old saying goes, “talk down to me again”.

  6. Bart

    “Okay. Don’t say stupid #%^*”….Kathryn

    Thanks for the civil reply Kathryn.

    But, speaking of stupid #%^*

    “Add in that ACA is actually quite popular, outside the ultra-right wing bubble, and…..”

    From NBC News Health:
    “”What’s in a name? Lots when it comes to Obamacare/ACA

    Steve Liesman CNBC Facebook Share on Facebook Twitter LinkedIn GooglePlus Email Sep. 26, 2013 at 7:26 PM ET

    Fewer Americans know what the Affordable Care Act is, compared with Obamacare, according to a CNBC survey.
    John Gress / Reuters
    Fewer Americans know what the Affordable Care Act is, compared with Obamacare, according to a CNBC survey. What’s in a name? When it comes to the debate over health care, apparently a lot.

    In CNBC’s third-quarter All-America Economic Survey, half of the 812 poll respondents were asked if they support Obamacare and the other half if they support the Affordable Care Act.

    First thing: 30 percent of the public doesn’t know what ACA is, vs. only 12 percent when we asked about Obamacare. More on that later.

    Now for the difference: 29 percent of the public supports Obamacare, compared with 22 percent who support ACA. Forty-six percent oppose Obamacare and 37 percent oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives. Gender and partisanship are responsible for the differences. Men, independents and Republicans are more negative on Obamacare than ACA. Young people, Democrats, nonwhites and women are more positive on Obamacare.

    By way of context, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked if respondents believe the new health care law is a good or bad idea. Their results: 31 percent think it’s a good idea and 44 percent say bad idea—roughly in line with the Obamacare response. A quarter of respondents said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion, equal to the share in the CNBC poll who don’t know or are neutral on Obamacare.

    By way of context, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked if respondents believe the new health care law is a good or bad idea. Their results: 31 percent think it’s a good idea and 44 percent say bad idea—roughly in line with the Obamacare response. A quarter of respondents said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion, equal to the share in the CNBC poll who don’t know or are neutral on Obamacare….”

    By any name, ACA or Obamacare, it is still not popular with the American public.

    As for the “locked in” comment, the intent was to convey the fact that Democrats are “locked in” in refusal to be willing to negotiate under any circumstances.

    Oddly enough, the majority of Republicans polled do not support defunding ACA if it means shutting down the government. I guess that is just more stupid #%^*, right?

  7. bud

    The Tea Party conservatives deserve no respect on this issue. Zero. Nada. Zip. They are reprehensible to the Nth degree and are utterly indefensible. Damn it win the next round of elections and then we they may deserve a bit of respect. But for now, frankly it’s more in America’s interest to negotiate with the Iranians than the Tea Party. They really have become a very dangerous faction in American politics. VERY dangerous and they need to be put down like a rabid dog.

    1. Bart

      “They really have become a very dangerous faction in American politics. VERY dangerous and they need to be put down like a rabid dog.”…bud

      And there it is; the mindset of a fanatical leftist in print for all to see. If this was the first time the commenter had used such language to describe his political opponents, it would be considered an anomaly. But, it is not and is simply another example in a very long list of similar comments that have been posted by the commenter. However, this time the commenter goes even further in the verbal attack and is calling, not figuratively but literally for the eradication of a group of people associated with a political movement the commenter disagrees with. Describing them as “rabid dogs” and calling for them to be “put down” is not what one would consider to be the comments of a rational thinking person. Hyperbole is one thing; calling for the death of Tea Party Conservatives is not hyperbole even when one considers the source of the comment.

      Can you imagine for a moment if the same comment would be made about Christians in Iran if the commenter was a member of the ruling theocracy and in good standing and what the results of such a comment might lead to? The problem is that in some countries, the person actually could become influential enough to be taken seriously.

      Yet, the owner of the blog continues to allow similar worded comments because the commenter is so “passionate” about personal convictions in politics and ideology and the commenter is a “made person”.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Bud, you have got to keep in mind that “they” is actually “us”. I have never agreed with the populist rabble-rousing Tea Party, but the people who need to believe the messages are our neighbors. Always have been.

      Sadly, I flew to the West Coast last week next to a retiree who watched six straight hours of Fox News with rapt attention. Clearly, he was a true believer. It is easy to call them lemmings; but the guy clearly has a yearning to believe in something. Channeling that need and discrediting those political leaders is a two-pronged process. We need to keep in mind that the fear and mistrust that underlies these “movements” has always been apart of our social history. Fighting with them is just giving them what they crave, attention, but on the political battlefield of their choosing. That isn’t ever a good idea. It makes much more sense to offer alternate channels for the validation of their concerns – but ones which reinforce the boundaries of a civil, just and inclusive society.

      They aren’t an enemy, they are us.

      1. Doug Ross

        The highest rated Fox News program is Bill O’Reilly with approximately 2.5 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the population. It’s ridiculous to associate Fox News with the conservative attitudes in this country. Four times as many people watch wrestling on Monday Night Raw and we don’t see a mad rush to elect Hulk Hogan to Congress.

        The Tea Party exists as a response to a government that has gone too far… to much spending, too much debt. It’s not a fringe group like the Occupiers or the Green Party, They win elections and have the right and responsibility to act according to the principles that got them elected.

        1. Mark Stewart

          They are a fringe movement, Doug. You may like some of their principles. Some my like others. Some people buy the whole mess hook line and sinker.

          But at the end of the day, its a laundry list of complaints; both articulated and inchoate. The Tea Party isn’t about leadership or about progress. They are social snipers – disrupters. That is a valid role; but a minor one in our democracy.

        2. Bart


          You made the same point about Fox I have tried to make but apparently to no avail. Bill O’Reilly’s show is not a news program but an opinion show, nothing more, nothing less. The same for Hannity. I don’t watch either one. I have tried on occasion to watch to see how their flags are flying on a topic but otherwise, I don’t waste my time.

          Even the actual news portions of Fox are viewed by about the same numbers which pale in comparison to ABC, CBS, and NBC. Some need windmills to tilt at otherwise, they have no one else to be the scapegoat or convenient straw man to blame. The windmills for Democrats and liberals are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and GWB. For Republicans and conservatives it is MSNBC, CNN, Schultz, Maddow, and the mainstream media.

          As for the Tea Party, your assessment is accurate. When one has lived as long as I have and have been a first hand witness to the changes in our society over almost 7 decades and have made lasting friends across the social, political, economic, and racial spectrum, I am surprised a movement like the Tea Party did not arise much sooner. I am not a member of the Tea Party but I do know several who are and rabid dogs, they are not. If anything, most of them have more than earned the right to speak their minds and support the cause they do which is centered around national debt not racism. However, as with any recent movement, there will be elements that will attempt to usurp the original intent.

          Kathleen Parker made a great point in the closing paragraph of her column today. To paraphrase, she said that in negotiations, you always leave an opening for the other side to escape. After being involved in numerous negotiations at several levels, one critical mistake you try to avoid is that you don’t back the other side into a corner and offer no room to move or escape. Depending on their commitment and willingness to defend their position by the one in the corner, there will be carnage in terms of financial losses, relationships that will never be repaired, creating a lifetime adversary, and one who will seek any way possible to inflict harm when given the opportunity.

          We all know, “like”, the ACA is the law. However, no law on the books is carved in stone and any law can be reviewed, revisited, repealed, amended, changed, and restructured at any time by willing parties agreeing to do so. Even amendments to the Constitution have been repealed, i.e., the 18th and the 14th amendment changed the status of African Americans to full citizenship.

          So, please, someone justify how the ACA is not subject to the same considerations whether one agrees with it or not.

          1. Doug Ross

            Exactly, Bart. I don’t know anyone personally who is a member of the Tea Party but I do know plenty of people in my age range who have similar views on what we feel has been a downward spiral of the government over the past few decades. Most of them are pro-GWB/Reagan. I’m not. I’m in a much smaller group that doesn’t appreciate the efforts of Republicans to play up the war on terror without paying for it as well as the efforts of Democrats to try and redistribute wealth by force to a segment of the population that hasn’t earned it and truly feels it is OWED something for nothing. I’m a pacifist Libertarian who believes in individual liberty and responsibility and that philosophy is centered around government being as small as required to provide the basics: roads, schools, national defense (not nation building or world police). I’m not opposed to single payer – and would prefer it over Obamacare which is a complete mess of regulation and taxation – as long as everyone had some skin in the game instead of making “the rich” pay for it.

          2. Doug Ross

            And those on the left seem to conveniently gloss over the fact that Obama has implemented executive orders to ignore or delay parts of THE LAW. The employer mandate was delayed without a vote. How is that different than pushing to delay the individual mandate as well?

            The mistake was creating a massive bill that was not well thought out instead of approaching an overhaul of 1/6 of the economy incrementally. They could have started with individual bills related to pre-existing conditions and full access to purchase. Then another bill to drop the Medicare age to 60 and increase the tax on EVERYONE enough to cover it. Then a separate bill to deal with the poor. But politics won out – they went for the big signature bill for Obama’s legacy and went for a bill that could only get 50% plus 1 votes.

            We’re now reaping the results of that strategy.

      2. Scout

        I love this approach, Mark. Very well said. Now we just need some kind of way to engage people in these kind of non-confrontational constructive conversations on a regular basis in real life. I am not good at that in real life. Writing on here is the closest I get to any kind of engaging with people who I disagree with. My body doesn’t handle confrontation in person well. I avoid it.

  8. bud

    Doug, POTUS had no choice. The Republicans only care about repeal and don’t really want to fix any part of the THE LAW.

    1. Doug Ross

      No choice for what? To pick and choose which parts of the Obamacare LAW he wanted to implement? How is that different? Republcians want the same delay for individual mandate as employers got.

      The funny thing is that the White House refuses to even provide a count of people who have successfully purchased insurance. Treasury Secretary Lew was all over the Sunday shows this morning spinning this train wreck into a luxury cruise.

      Does anyone know ANYONE who has bought insurance through Obamacare? Actually paid for a policy? They have to get MILLIONS of people to sign up and pay before the end of the year. Most people will wait til the last minute to delay having to make that first payment (which you must do when you sign up).

  9. bud

    Here’s an offer the Dems could make. Make a tort reform proposal in exchange for a clean CR. The Republicans have been clamoring for tort reform for decades so why wouldn’t they jump at the chance to get us out of this mess and get something they want.

    1. Bart

      Centrist Democrats brought this up a long time ago and it was summarily dismissed by Obama and his team. He declared it would be vetoed immediately if it made it to his desk. He refused to negotiate even on this one point and anyone who has been following the inconsistent enforcement of some elements of ACA decided solely by Obama would reasonably expect him to change his mind.

  10. T.J.

    Great points raised by all. From a high level view, I look at this issue and boths sides unwillingness to compromise, less as a policy issue and more as an institutional struggle. The US House (and minority party) is trying to seize a new political “tool” to push policy despite being out 2/3rds of the levers of power.

    Pushing a showdown over essential economic issues is a new form of brinksmanship calculated to advance a certain agenda despite not holding the Senate and not controlling the Presidential veto. Obviously, this new “tool” is incredibly reckless and would normally have electoral blowback if not for the safely gerrymandered districts. The President’s refusal to negotiate on any level is more about fear of legitmizing future use of the “tool” and thus weakening the Office of the President as an institution.

    I think there is a balance of power issue aside from the actual substantive issues. Is there really any debate about the legitimacy of one part of the legislative process precipitating an economic crisis to pursue policy objectives? Imagine for a minute that the President refused to sign into law or directing the executive branch to ignore, a bill passed by both the House and Senate over his or her veto until the law (or even a different law) could be amended to his or her preference.

    I am just struggling to imagine a situation where any similar scenario could be viewed as proper in our democratic process. Is there someone who actually believes this is a legitimate tactic?

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Is it “legitimate”? Sure. It’s a hardline tactic, but it’s legitimate. Whether it’s wise is the better question. If the White House isn’t going to even talk, then it’s just going to be a question of which side will knuckle under first.

      The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        As Jon Stewart said, this isn’t chicken, when the driver of one car throws the steering wheel out the window!


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