Government shutdown backfires? GOP says Democrats now guilty of extortion.
The government shutdown began with Democrats saying Republican demands about Obamacare were 'extortion.' Now, as the GOP resistance collapses, Senate Democrats are pushing back.
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But Senator Reid is having none of it. He knows that polls show most Americans blaming Republicans for the current gridlock. And he knows that the Republican establishment absolutely, positively does not want the government to default on its debt. The tea party, with its grass-roots outrage, might be willing to stay firm on its debt-limit resolve, but establishment Republicans are much more likely to listen to Wall Street, and a failure to raise the debt limit could mean global financial chaos. Not good for 401(k)s.Skip to next paragraph
Mark is deputy national news editor for the Monitor.
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So Reid is trying his hand at the "extortion" game. The Republicans can only save themselves if they get out of this mess, and he's the only Democrat in Congress who has the power to let that happen. So far, he's letting them dangle.
He now wants the Republicans to roll back parts of the sequester budget cuts agreed to during the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis. The sequester, however, happens to be the only major legislative success of the Republicans' tea party era. Asking the GOP to go back on the sequester cuts would be like asking the Democrats to go back on, say ... Obamacare.
"There's no question that House Republicans overreached in trying to use this negotiation to repeal a [health care] bill that was very central to the president's agenda,'' said Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, according to The Wall Street Journal. "The same thing is happening on the Democratic side among Senate leadership as pushed by the White House. They're trying to now undo a law put in place in 2011, the Budget Control Act.''
Just like the Republicans didn't have the numbers in Congress to defund Obamacare, the Democrats don't have the numbers to eviscerate the sequester. Not if the Republicans hold firm as the Democrats have. And it's hard to imagine the Republican-controlled House surrendering so meekly, even in its current beaten and battered state.
In all likelihood, Reid is merely pressing his advantage to gain as much leverage as he can. An agreement before Oct. 17, the day Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling or risk default, now seems inevitable.
The real lesson here, it seems, is one of political perspective. In D.C., "extortion" is just politics by another name.
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