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October 07, 2013

White House Blinks, Will Negotiate On Debt Ceiling After All

Well, wadaya know.

After weeks of insisting it won’t negotiate on either the budget or the debt ceiling, a top White House adviser said this morning that Barack Obama would sign a short-term lift in the latter to gain more time for a longer-term agreement.

Remember, Obama was supposed to be overseas on his Asia trip this week. He decided to send Sec. Kerry in his place over the weekend, even as he was insisting that he wasn't going to negotiate on the debt ceiling. Why stay in the U.S. if he wasn't going to negotiate? Answer: he'll negotiate.

A GOP congressman (he doesn't want to be further identified) explains just how far outside the norm the parties have wandered in the current showdown.

The crisis that House Republican leaders didn't see coming is now consuming them, with unpredictable consequences. "We're not in a situation that has been planned out and war-gamed and plotted, OK?" said the congressman. "We stumbled into a situation like Gettysburg that nobody planned, and all of a sudden each side is feeding more troops into it, and it's turning into a much bigger deal."

What comes now? Not surprisingly, the lawmaker didn't know. But he felt safe predicting it would be just as chaotic as events of the last few weeks.

I talked a little about this during this week's podcast. We are far beyond the ordinary political processes used to sort out differences between Republicans and the Democrats. When folks predict it will be sorted out by the time federal spending reaches the debt ceiling (myself included), the prediction is based on the belief that Obama will stop having a tantrum and actually come to the negotiating table. Today is the first indication since the shutdown began that might happen.

Also, I'm enjoying that for once, someone other than the GOP is fractured. It has almost gone unreported, but the Democrats are cracking up. Several House Democrats from light-blue and purple districts are repeatedly peeling off from the White House and Sen. Reid's hard-line demand that there be no negotiations. The White House's insanely arbitrary decisions about just what's going to be closed due to the shutdown are taking their toll.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:59 PM

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