Right now, every Republican heart is all a-flutter with the prospect of giving uber rich shitpokes an even larger share of an ever shrinking pie. But in the midst of this fiscal feeding frenzy, the GOP controlled congress is missing one little thing. The US government needs its allowance. Like, by Friday night. At the latest. And they don’t seem to be in a hurry to do anything about it.
The problem is simple. What the House can pass won’t fly in the Senate, and the revisions that Mitch McConnell will send back to the House to pass the Senate won’t fly in the House. And how’s this for the poster child for dysfunction? Ryan can’t work on the spending bill first, because if he passes a continuing resolution to fund the government with Democratic support, he risks a rebellion that could have his more rambunctious House members angry at the contents of the CR vote to scuttle the tax bill in protest. So, Ryan is forced to go through the kibuki theater of trying to pass the tax bill in the House first, and the dynamics of the budget fight are not going to get any easier, and time to solve it will only be shorter.
Believe it or not, right now this has absolutely nothing to do with the Democrats, the GOP House and Senate are engaging in a school yard recess pissing contest with each other. Politico is reporting that one plan under consideration in the House, which must initiate budgetary bills, is for the House to pass what it wants, and then blow town to force the Senate to either pass their bill, or bear the brunt for the government shutting down. And since the House has to lead in budgetary matters, there is no way for McConnell to preempt them.
The biggest problem is the voting makeup of the chambers. Ryan can pass a budget bill all by himself if he can get his caucus to go along, but McConnell will need at least 8 Democratic votes to avoid a filibuster. The House GOP wants to pass an extension to January 19th, increasing defense spending, but nothing else. Democrats are adamant that any increase in defense spending be offset by an equal increase in social spending, which the House Republicans loathe. One of the possible compromises being floated in the Senate wold be to add the Murray-Alexander bill, repairing some basic ACA problems, such as codifying the Cost Sharing Revenue provision into law, taking it out of Trump’s hands to withhold, but anything that helps Obamacare is sunlight to the House GOP vampire, although there is slim hope that Ryan can make that fly with the consolation that the tax bill got rid of the individual mandate in the healthcare law. And Republican lawmakers are tres unhappy about the status and progress of disaster relief funding, which has been kicked to the side of the road in the rush to give away the candy store to the Mercers, Trump’s, Adelson’s, and Koch brothers of the world.
Whatever the GOP does, they’re going to have to pay the Democratic piper. While Ryan may be able to pull off ruling with an iron fist, McConnell is going to have to wear a velvet glove, and that is going to put Ryan under the gun with whatever the Senate sends back to him. While there is some question as to whether or not the Democrats will agree to move back the immigration fight until January, settling on language in the CR that will force McConnell to bring the subject up in the senate in January, and whether they will insist on codifying the DREAM Act into law as a part of the budget extension, the Democrats have made it clear that the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP for short, is a hill they are willing to die on, as is beginning to undo some of the horrors of sequestration by raising spending caps on social programs to equal amounts of defense spending increases. And any concessions that McConnell agrees to only make it harder for Ryan to pass the bill when it comes back to the House without more Democratic support, which will only enrage his own caucus further. Ryan has already been hearing whispers of a possible coup attempt to oust him from his Speakers role, if his caucus comes to believe that he really will leave after the 2018 elections, his lame duck concessions to get Democratic support could create an environment where they move to oust him in January when congress comes back into session. And with John McCain back in Arizona until January, not only is McConnell’s margin thinner in the tax bill vote, he will need Democrats even more for the budget bill.
If all of this sounds complicated and confusing to you, you’re not wrong. Now, think about trying to get this mess accomplished in only two days, because that’s what will have to happen. If the House passes the tax bill on Tuesday, and the Senate follows suit on Wednesday, that will leave them two days to sort all of this out. And never will the Democrats have more leverage to exact concessions. The Democrats can not only jam the budget baseball up the GOP’s ass, they can use the bat to tamp it up another foot. And this is politically important, because every concession they get only endears them to their base, depserate for wins against the unholy triumvirate of Trump, Ryan, and McConnell. And every Democratic concession only serves to further enrage the rabid Trump base, already furious with the congress lack of support in pushing Hair Furor’s nonsensical agenda. And all of this will play out in its bloody glory in 2018.
So, while the Tiny Fisted Diktator may finally get his long awaited tiny fisted first legislative victory, whatever noise he can trumpet about the passage of a bill about as popular as genital warts may well be drowned out by the thundering crash of concessions he and his party are forced to make to avoid a government shutdown of which they would be sole owners in the public eye. I love karma, don’t you?