John Boehner crying

For crying out loud!

| During the standoff on Capitol Hill, John Boehner declared it was "not a damn game" and, equally resolute, that he would not make an "unconditional surrender" to President Obama.

And so, the government shut down, went into "sleep mode" so to speak. Most workers were furloughed while those deemed "essential" continued to work, but without pay.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz, the very junior senator from Texas, occupied himself with hortatory directed toward the House Tea Party Mutants to "rise up" and take a  "courageous stand" — which to him meant hold out for killing the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). He also criticized freely the other members of the Senate, ensuring his isolation in the chamber.

Convinced that President Obama would "blink" and give in to their ransom demands, the Repugnicans tried every which way to drive a wedge into Democratic solidarity. That was the purpose of all the "mini" funding bills they sent to the Senate.

As the bewitching hour approached, Boehner finally gave in and agreed to allow a vote on a bill from the Senate brokered by Mitch McConnel and Harry Reid providing for short-term funding of the government and temporarily suspending the debt ceiling. He finally came to the conclusion that he had no more options and he would have to do the right thing to escape going down in history as the one man responsible for cratering the US and world economies.

Mitch McConnell at the Ohio clock which stopped at 12:15 during the shutdown
Mitch McConnell at the Ohio clock which stopped at 12:15 during the shutdown because the curator responsible for winding it was on furlough

And what did the deal do? It opened the government, suspended the debt ceiling, and strengthened a really, really, minor provision that is already in the ACA. Essentially, the only thing the Repugnicans got out of this was the opportunity for John Boehner to tell a radio audience in Ohio that "We fought the good fight. We just didn't win." That — fighting — seemed to be enough for most Tea Party Mutants who praised Boehner's stalwartness. Our old friend Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) called the re-opening of government "a very sad day" (HuffPo).

The important fact to keep in mind is that the deal got nothing that wasn't possible before the shutdown began. In otherwords, the shutdown accomplished nothing

Technically speaking, that last conclusion isn't really true. What it did do was enrich Ted Cruz's coffers and extend his mailing list. Just what we need.

The utter ignorance of those 144 people in the House who voted against the bill — that is, for default — is astonishing. I can't imagine the thought process that ends up with someone like Ted Yoho (R-FL) saying “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”

Standard and Poor's estimated that the shutdown exercise took $24 billion dollars out of the US economy (HuffPo). That, of course, is just for starters. There will also be cumulative costs that arise from reduced confidence and higher borrowing costs.

So, John Boehner, you "fought the good fight." Well good for you. We now know that you value being Speaker more than you value the economy. You put the nation and the world through two weeks of hell so you could appease the Tea Party Mutants in the house and protect your speakership.

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said it well: "Yes, we prevented an economic catastrophe that would have put a huge hole in our fragile economic recovery. But the reason we were in this mess in the first place is that a reckless faction in Congress took the government and the economy hostage for no good purpose and to no productive end" (HuffPo).

The can has been "kicked down the road" for about two months, and come December or January we will be right back at square one. It remains to be seen if anyone has learned any lessons from this debacle.

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Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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