High-stakes negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans are the last stage of talks to increase the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown less than three days away from the country’s deadline to avoid default. According to Reuters, Monday, Oct. 14, an unnamed Democratic aide said “Senate leaders are ‘making progress’ in their bid to resolve Washington's latest fiscal crisis.” ABC News’ Good Morning America reported earlier on Monday, however, that “time is running out, but there is no visible sign of progress anywhere. The Democratic and Republican Senate leaders took the lead on negotiations over the weekend, but had only two brief conversations and didn’t appear to accomplish anything.”
On Sunday, Oct. 13, George Stephanopoulos hosted Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on This Week who bore out the report by GMA. Republican senator, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, told George that he did not see any deal which would get through both houses of Congress and signed by the president. According to Graham, “If you break the spending caps, you’re not going to get any Republicans in the Senate. And, here’s what I’m worried about: A deal coming out of the Senate that a majority of Republicans can’t vote for in the House. That really does compromise Speaker Boehner’s leadership. And, after all this mess is over, do we really want to compromise John Boehner as leader of the House? I don’t think so. So, I’m not going to vote for any plan that I don’t think can get a majority of Republicans in the House understanding that defunding Obamacare and delaying it for years is not a realistic possibility, now.”
Congressman Raul Labrador, Republican from Idaho responds, “You know, it seems strange. We’re four days away from breaching the debt ceiling. We give the president a pretty good offer. The offer was that we would actually extend the debt ceiling without any requirements for six weeks. And, so we could continue negotiations on the debt. And, then, we can continue, also, negotiations on the continuing resolution — the actual budgeting, the actual spending, uh, bill that we need to do. And I don’t see why the president is not accepting that. Why he’s not working with us. I, I think it’s, uh, it’s been very difficult to work with him. He wouldn't even come to the table to negotiate. And, now that he’s coming to the table, he rejected two offers. I thought the House offer was a pretty reasonable one. And I’m surprised he also rejected the Senate offer.”
House Democrat, Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota weighed in at that point, clarifying, “Well, I mean it’s very simple. We can negotiate and talk all we want to after we reopen the government. As a matter of fact, we can open the government and have any kind of discussions they want, over anything they want,” Rep. Ellison said directly to Stephanopoulos. “But, we've got to reopen the government, and we've got to pay America’s debts,” an exasperated Ellison told George. He continued, incredulity apparent in his voice, “Let’s not forget, George, this whole thing started when Republicans said ‘we want to defund, delay, and repeal the Affordable Care Act,’ which gives millions of Americans insurance reform and access to health care, including about 200,000 in Idaho. And, now, they’re saying that unless we stop all that, then, they’re not going to open the government. And, that’s not realistic, and we won’t do it.”
To lessen the severity of Republican loss of credibility as one of two major parties, Graham said “Well, at the end of the day, I really do believe that the Democrats have moved the goal post twice in the Senate. There is a political — we’re in a free-fall as Republicans, but Democrats are not far behind, and after listening to all of us talk, now I probably understand why 60 percent of Americans want to vote all incumbents out. To my colleagues in the House on both sides, and to my friends in the Senate, we’re ruining both institutions. So, it is unrealistic to expect us to be able to defund or delay Obamacare by shutting the government down. But, the fight on Obamacare is far from over. After this mess is behind us, Obamacare will be a liability for Democrats. And the government shutdown, we can survive, if we’re smart.” He went on to mention that Paul Ryan was working on some plan that Graham thought could “correct the problem” [unnamed by Graham] with the Affordable Care Act.
During the interview with Stephanopoulos Republican leaders’ behaved in direct opposition to their claim, in Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) words, to want “a come together moment with Democrats” on the debt ceiling and government shutdown. McConnell told a Lexington, Ky. newspaper in an interview on Friday, Oct. 11 “[A]s much as I would rather have a Republican president and would rather be the majority leader of the Senate, I’m willing to work with the government we have — not the one I wish we had.”
Earlier on Monday, the president announced that he would be calling congressional leaders to the White House. “If Republicans aren't willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns, in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting,” admitted President Barack Obama to ABC News.
With the clock still ticking toward the deadline, 74 percent of America now blames Republicans for the shutdown according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll, late Monday. Senate Republicans appear to have backed down without any major changes to the Affordable Care Act, “the Republican demand which started the crisis in the first place,” said Jonathan Karl for the evening news, who commented that Tea Party House Republicans would almost “certainly hate this deal, we just don’t know if they’ll be able to kill it.”
A temporary fix giving the U.S. a three-month reprieve on the nation’s debt has been the latest deal offered by Republicans as the country rushes to avoid this catastrophe. The tentative deal would reopen the government, according to ABC World News on Monday evening, but only until Jan. 15. It would avoid default, for now, extending the ability for the U.S. to borrow money until mid-February. Three months from now, like Ground Hog Day, America will be reliving this scene all over, again. The world watches, some calling it ludicrous, concerned that the fallout from these antics might cause worldwide negative economic consequences.