The current state of play over House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) attempts to get a continuing resolution through the House to avert a government shutdown -- an effort that has not only exacerbated tensions within the House GOP caucus, but has also spilled over into a wider war between House and Senate Republicans -- is emblematic of the larger problem looming ahead of the coming fiscal crises. As Greg Sargent notes, a "basic fact about this fall's fiscal fights" is that "[f]ar and away the dominant factor shaping how they play out will be the divisions among Republicans." It's not just a political story, it's the political story.
A clearly frustrated Boehner seemed to realize that he leads a conference where no plan is quite good enough. There are frequently about 30 Republicans who oppose leadership’s carefully crafted plans — just enough to mess things up. A reporter asked him whether he has a new idea to resolve the government funding fight. He laughed and said, “No.”
“Do you have an idea?” he asked the reporters. “They’ll just shoot it down anyway.”
None of this bodes well for the future. Jonathan Chait reckons that the chances that a government shutdown will occur over this are once again on the rise, along with the possibility that there will be a concomitant debt ceiling debacle later.
But nothing distills this mess down to its essence quite like this anecdote, courtesy of Buzzfeed's Kate Nocera:
Frustrated too are Capitol Hill aides, who have begun to view budgetary showdowns like the political version of Groundhog Day. When asked their thoughts about a continuing resolution and the possibility of a government shutdown, a GOP aide simply sent over a YouTube clip from the movie Zoolander, where Will Ferrell’s character declares he feels like he is taking crazy pills.
(In terms of the culture of political media, by the way, this is an extraordinary development. We are now just a few steps away from stories that include lines like, "Reached for comment, a senior administration official would not provide specifics, but agreed to send along this .gifset from 'Mean Girls' on background.")
As Sherman and Bresnahan report: "[I]n private discussions, GOP leadership aides acknowledge they have absolutely no idea how they’ll lift the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling." So, if no one manages to open up the Center For Legislators Who Can't Govern Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, we are all probably doomed.
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]