Friday Morning Political Mix
Happy Friday, fellow political junkies. It's the 11th day of the partial federal government shutdown, 2013 edition.
President Obama and House Republicans at least opened a line of communications before the second week of the shutdown ended, so that was good news.
Less positive was that it came only a week before the Oct. 17 expiration date Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gave for when he would run out of tricks to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.
With that bit of throat-clearing behind us, here are some of the morning's more interesting political items:
- The morning after President Obama and House Republican leaders met to try and find an end to the government shutdown and avoid an historic U.S. government debt default, the path to a deal still seemed arduous. But at least the principals and their aides were talking and the key people were making the right noises, The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook and Patrick O'Connor reported.
- Throughout the current crisis, House Republicans have claimed they were only doing the will of the American people. A new WSJ/NBC poll showing the Republican Party at historically low support levels severely wrecked such claims, however. The numbers will be very hard to spin positively for the GOP though that doesn't mean some won't try.
- Senate Republicans apparently have grown so dubious of the House Republicans' shutdown-default strategy as to want to exert a greater role in finding a solution themselves. Some Senate Republicans are meeting with Democratic colleagues to try to reach an agreement that would avoid another near-term fiscal showdown, reports Politico.
- The president may not have won his second Nobel Peace Prize Friday but the win by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was something of his victory, too. The OPCW is currently in Syria working to identify and disarm Bashir al-Assad's chemical weapons stockpile. It was Obama's threat, muddled as it was, of U.S. military attack on Syria after its use in September of the dreaded weapons against civilians that led to the Syrian dictator's agreement to allow the OPCW into his country.
- Furloughed federal workers are tapping retirement accounts, taking second jobs and cutting spending on non-luxuries to make their monthly expenses, writes the Washington Post's Steve Hendrix.
- Obama signed legislation to restore military death benefits to families of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, reports Rick Maze of Army Times. This raised some eyebrows. White House press secretary Jay Carney had said, after all, that a charity's decision to pay the benefits rendered unnecessary the president signing the bill. But as commander-in-chief Obama arguably had to sign it for the morale of his troops and their families, if nothing else.
- Some Republican governors (think Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal) who now bemoan Washington dysfunction helped to elect the Tea Party congressmen whose tactics have made an already sclerotic federal government even more so, writes the National Journal's Beth Reinhard.
- In a great irony the Obama administration, which came into office promising to be the most transparent ever, has created an atmosphere where government sources are afraid to talk with reporters, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports.
- Diehard conservative Erick Erickson of RedState.com writes that after returning to his hotel room from an appearance as a celebrity chef (insert your "cooked goose" joke here) he had emails, presumably from fellow conservatives, wanting to cave and give up the fight to defund Obamacare. He's not for turning, however.