After pointing fingers, calling each other names and saying “no” to any suggestion of negotiation,, President Barack Obama and Republicans in the House of Representatives said Thursday they are, finally, willing to talk and try to negotiate their way out of the political morass that covers Washington like a stinking sewer.
Senate Democrats, after Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared to torpedo the progress by calling GOP suggestions “unacceptable,” suddenly went quiet.
Reality for one thing. Political reality as reflected in polls that show Americans are fed up with everyone in Washington.
Republicans saw their approval rating fall to its lowest point in decades. Obama isn’t much better off and Democrats in both the Senate and House found themselves in the same, sinking boat.
Second, a stubborn and detached Obama decided to roll up his sleeves and start dealing with the crisis that threatens America’s economy, debt rating and — for all practical purposes — survival.
Finally, both sides went behind closed doors and didn’t just talk among themselves. They shouted a lot. Republicans told tea party conservatives to shut up and start acting like adults and Obama told Senate Majority leader Reid to zip his lip.
Does this mean the crisis is coming to a quick and satisfactory end? Probably not. The divisions between the parties are too deep for a fast and satisfactory resolution. Does it mean there is a chance? Hopefully, so. The catastrophic predictions on what could happen if America defaults on its debt are true and the warnings valid.
At the very least, there is a chance that Washington will avoid default and strike a deal — even a temporary one — to raise the borrowing limit. There is also hope of both sides sitting down and working out an agreement on the budget.
Democratic sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that pressure from Democrats is building to try and force Obama to at least agree to a delay in putting the next step of Obamacare in force. Glitches from the rollout of the health exchanges continue and many Dems worry that the “sticker shock” of the actual cost of insurance under the plan is starting to sink in.
After weeks of stonewalling, some feel that Obama might agree to a delay of up to a year in implementation of his signature, and questionable, health “reform” plan. Such a capitulation by the President is hardly certain but a growing number of Democrats see it as an emerging possibility.
On the Republican side, pressure to gag the tea party extremists if mounting from the very GOP grassroots that the rabid right claims to represent.
GOP members of Congress are hearing more and more from local and state party chairman that they — as the leaders of the party faithful back home — have had it with the tea party and want Republicans to return to the base — and more reasonable — tenants of their philosophy.
This doesn’t mean the tea party zealots will go quietly — they seldom do anything doesn’t involve extreme action and loud hyperbole-driven rhetoric — but some within the GOP now see control by the rowdy right as a threat to the future of their control of the House, return to to the White House and even survival.
So let the talking begin — and let’s hope that this time, actions are stronger than words.