You know you're in trouble when Paul Ryan emerges from anywhere. But even without his august presence now suddenly eclipsing that of Ted Cruz, the Democrats had already started their current negotiations with the Ryan budget. Austerians are now going to deal with austerians.
Ryan is beginning to sound like Obama. In a Wall Street Journal (paywalled) editorial, he wrote of the need for "modest reforms to entitlements" and was careful to deny that this equates with any Grand Bargain. Both sides of the Money Party now realize that the phrase "Grand Bargain" has a negative connotation for those they are trying to screw.
From what I can glean from the corporate media, talks are back on to kick the debt ceiling can for another six weeks or so -- right up until the usual hectic holiday time, when nobody is paying much attention and all the political players will be anxious to do anything and sign anything in their haste to blow town for their Christmas vacations on the slopes or the beaches.
The good news, of course, is that the almighty Koch machine might be losing some of its steam and a few of its well-oiled parts are crumbling and falling by the wayside. These polluting plutocrats are finally being forced to distance themselves from their own decades-long crusade to destroy the government. The bad news is that the almighty Pete Peterson plutocrats of Fix the Debt are taking up the slack, still slithering around like giant boa constrictors, ready to put the Wall Street squeeze on the squeezed Republicans. The bad news is that the now-weakened Tea Party was the only thing standing in the way of the last Grand Bargain attempt by Boehner and Barack in 2011. As I responded to Paul Krugman's column today,
All it will take to destroy the Tea Party movement is that magic moment when the co-opted astroturfers suddenly connect the dots between their misery and their libertarian heroes' sedition. Grandma's Social Security check is M.I.A. Junior breaks a bone, and the local E.R. has closed for lack of government reimbursements. Uncle Joe's heart medication kills him because FDA inspectors were furloughed, and Big Pharma just can't seem to resist cutting corners with quality control.
Of course, the ultimate irony is happening right now. People are getting sick from eating salmonella-tainted chicken -- all because of the dangerous game of chicken the GOP is playing. Even before the shutdown, the government cut back on poultry plant inspectors, leading the Southern Poverty Law Center to issue a dire warning. You know that our democracy is in deep trouble when a group known for exposing domestic terrorism and hate groups warns that even our sustenance is an imminent threat.
And you know that when even "liberal" pundits start viewing Paul Ryan as reasonable, willing to help the president out with "entitlement reforms", the real progressives need to start coming out of the closet, pronto. It's not enough to "just say no" to the extremists.
How about an end to the carried interest deduction and a tax on high speed trades to fund education and infrastructure? How about scrapping the cap on FICA contributions to protect retirement into perpetuity?
We have to fight fire with fire.Although Obama is pretending to adhere to his pledge not to be extorted with the threat of default, he is perfectly willing to be extorted with the government still shut down. Putting furloughed federal employees back to work is not a condition for slashing the safety net. At least, not according to the latest leaks. Stayed tuned, but don't stay too riveted. It's bad for your health, and it makes you feel like a yo-yo that keeps getting played.