Rand Paul’s government shutdown diplomacy

Rand Paul’s government shutdown diplomacy

Rand Paul is pictured. | AP Photo‘Maybe by chatting over coffee together, we can just talk and see if we can get along.’ | AP Photo

By MANU RAJU | 10/2/13 4:51 PM EDT Updated: 10/2/13 6:08 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul: Peacemaker?

In the raging government shutdown fight, the Kentucky tea party favorite is quietly carving out a role as a bridge builder between the warring hard-line conservative faction and establishment wings of his party. And he’s also tossing out ideas aimed at bringing Democrats along in the process.

Paul pitched a “clean” one-to-two week stop-gap measure to give the parties time to iron out their differences while keeping the government afloat. He has suggested bicameral negotiations to find a middle-ground between the demands of conservatives to defund Obamacare and Democratic insistence that they wouldn’t touch the law. And he’s now making a new pitch: Coffee.

In a letter to all senators sent Wednesday afternoon, Paul called for a bipartisan coffee meeting on the Capitol steps Thursday morning to “alleviate this tension and partisanship.”

(POLITICO’s full government shutdown coverage)

“Tension is at an all-time high here at the Capitol,” Paul said in the letter, which was provided to POLITICO. “We are all anxious about the shutdown and had to send the bulk of our staff home — worried about their future. … Maybe by chatting over coffee together, we can just talk and see if we can get along.”

Paul’s coffee announcement may amount to little more than optics in what has become an extended round of theatrics on Capitol Hill, with no resolution to the government shutdown in sight. But it’s the latest example of how the potential 2016 presidential hopeful is methodically seeking to broaden his appeal from 2010, when he ran for the Senate on a hard-right tea party platform with a devoted libertarian following.

Now, he’s building close ties to party leaders like Mitch McConnell — viewed skeptically by some conservative activists — while trying to keep up his appeal among the tea party right.

(PHOTOS: D.C. closes up shop)

In short, he’s no Ted Cruz.

“Anything a senator can do to create political space for our House colleagues is a good thing,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said when asked about the Paul efforts.

Cruz has become a hero on the right for vehemently attacking his Senate GOP colleagues for refusing to back his tactic to threaten a government shutdown if Democrats don’t defund Obamacare — alienating himself from Republican senators in the process.

Paul sided with Cruz in his anti-Obamacare effort, even signing a letter backing the defunding tactic and appearing with the Texas Republican for a portion of his 21-hour speech attacking Obamacare last week. But with Republican senators attacking the Cruz tactic as fruitless and politically damaging, Paul has maintained a lower profile. Paul has avoided becoming the face of the effort, eschewing direct confrontations with his colleagues — and even expressing concern about a government shutdown.

(POLITICO interview: Rep. Steve King predicts longer shutdown)

When asked why he was staying out of the spotlight just days before federal agencies closed, Paul responded: “I think it’s not a good idea to shut down the government.” Instead, he said it made more sense for House-Senate conference to resolve the Obamacare dispute to “split the difference.”

“That’s the way it really should work,” he said.

A day after Cruz’s marathon speech, Paul took to the Senate floor to engage in an extended colloquy with McConnell where the two men both railed about the ills of Obamacare, giving political cover to the GOP leader who opposed the Cruz effort to filibuster a government funding bill.

By keeping his foot in both camps, Paul has emerged as a key asset for his Kentucky colleague, McConnell, who can’t afford to undercut House Republicans in the shutdown fight without provoking a backlash from the right.

That could make Paul’s role increasingly critical if the shutdown grows politically unsustainable for the GOP and Senate Republicans begin to look for a way out of the crisis. On the Senate floor in recent days, Paul and McConnell have been seen talking extensively. And Paul’s suggestion for a short-term stop-gap measure on Monday came on the same day McConnell quietly sought to gauge support for a one-week plan.

(PHOTOS: 17 times the government has shut down)

But aides to the two Kentuckians deny they are coordinating their tactics, saying Paul is merely expressing his opinions about the best way forward.

While many Senate Republicans opposed the Cruz and House GOP tactics, many are now keeping their powder dry given that the government has shut down and there’s no clear resolution in sight. In interviews on Wednesday, Senate Republicans said they were not at that point yet of pressuring their House Republicans to buckle, saying that their best hope was to stay unified behind House Speaker John Boehner in the high-stakes battle.

“We’re at our best when we’re united,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/rand-paul-government-shutdown-diplomacy-97745.html#ixzz2gcp6vWUN

John Boehner’s Shutdown


John Boehner’s Shutdown

Published: October 1, 2013

By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete. In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll.

At any point, Mr. Boehner could have stopped it. Had he put on the floor a simple temporary spending resolution to keep the government open, without the outrageous demands to delay or defund the health reform law, it could easily have passed the House with a strong majority — including with sizable support from Republican members, many of whom are aware of how badly this collapse will damage their party. Continue reading “John Boehner’s Shutdown”

Why Obama and the Democrats Shouldn’t Negotiate with Extortionists

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” will be out September 27.

Why Obama and the Democrats Shouldn’t Negotiate with Extortionists

Sunday, September 29, 2013

As a child I was bullied by bigger boys who threatened to beat me up if I didn’t give them what they wanted. But every time I gave in to their demands their subsequent demands grew larger. First they wanted the change in my pocket. Next it was the dessert in my lunchbox. Then my new Davy Crockett cap. Then the softball and bat I got for my birthday.

Finally I stopped giving in. When the bullies began roughing me up on the playground some older boys came to my rescue and threatened my tormenters with black eyes if they ever touched me again. That ended their extortion racket.

What’s happening in Washington these days may seem far removed from my boyhood memories, but Washington is really just another children’s playground. Its current bullies are right-wing Republicans, now threatening that if they don’t get their way they’ll close down the government and cause the nation to default on its debts. Continue reading “Why Obama and the Democrats Shouldn’t Negotiate with Extortionists”

Dems: Prolonged shutdown will give us leverage on debt limit

By Alexander Bolton – 10/02/13 06:00 AM ET

Senate Democrats believe the longer the government remains shut down, the more leverage they will wield in the debt-limit debate later this month.

There is growing sentiment among Democrats that the short-term funding resolution and debt-limit increase should be combined. They claim the issues should be merged to take advantage of Republicans, who are pided and off balance trying to fend off blame for the shutdown.

“This is now all together,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) about blending the two issues.  Continue reading “Dems: Prolonged shutdown will give us leverage on debt limit”

Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
October 01, 2013

Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown

Rose Garden

1:01 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.  At midnight last night, for the first time in 17 years, Republicans in Congress chose to shut down the federal government.  Let me be more specific:  One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law.

This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.  But I want every American to understand why it did happen.  Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.

And many representatives, including an increasing number of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping the government open, with no partisan strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people’s government open and operating. Continue reading “Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown”