Let’s make a deal
Well, um, yippee.
Wow. Congress has decided it won’t trigger a global financial crisis out of pure pique. Can’t get any better than that.
Plus, the government is going to be funded until after the holidays. Halloween is going to be so terrific.
Important Halloween note: When you’re thinking about party costumes, forget going as Sen. Ted Cruz. Everybody will be going as Ted Cruz. (Consider going as Rep. Ted Yoho. You would need a name tag, but “Ted Yoho” would be so worth it.)
Even in defeat, Cruz was in the limelight Wednesday. “It is heartbreaking to the American people that Senate Republicans divided as they did,” he told his colleagues, demonstrating an unshakable confidence in his capacity to peer into the national mind.
Earlier, in a news conference, he announced: “Unfortunately, once again, it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people.” There have been about 9 million polls taken since the government shutdown, all of which showed the American people shrieking do not shut down the government! Where do you think Ted Cruz gets his information about public opinion? Twitter, that’s where. There is nothing so dangerous to national well-being as an extremist with a smartphone.
Also, he keeps pointing out that 2 million people signed an online petition to defund Obamacare. Two million people is approximately 0.6 of 1 percent of the U.S. public. Two million is also about the number of Twitter followers for Adam Lambert, the runner-up for the 2009 season of “American Idol.”
OK, I’m done complaining.
Let’s think positive. Americans want to get back to normal. We want to admire the fall foliage and plan for Thanksgiving and complain about Congress’ failure to pass a farm bill. There is nothing we find more attractive than the sight of a bipartisan majority, holding hands to kick the budgetary can down the road.
As Congress began debate on the new get-out-of-this-ditch plan, the Senate devoted most of its time to a celebration of that sudden blossoming of bipartisanship. “I was wondering why I came to the United States Senate,” confessed Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Heitkamp claimed she had despaired over the behavior of her colleagues until she joined a group of 14 Republicans and Democrats working on proposals to restart the government. None of their specific proposals actually got passed, but everyone except the tea party praised their team spirit.
Besides Heitkamp, the group included both senators from Maine and New Hampshire. Perhaps people from cold places have a greater appreciation of the advantages of coming together.
The House whipped through its approval with virtually no comment. There is nothing more efficient than a sullen majority. Democrats said a few lukewarm words about the agreement. “It does have my support as a means to an end,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Good work in repressing the temptation to gloat, House Democrats!
It was the outcome Tea Party conservatives had theoretically feared — Democrats and moderates ascendant. But, by the end, most of them seemed sort of grateful for a way out. The Republican caucus gave House Speaker John Boehner a standing ovation, which really did suggest that he’d been exceptionally canny in the way he played his cards. And it only required 16 days of government shutdown to put him on firm political footing.
About the plan: Everything goes back to normal and all the fights get postponed until early next year. Meanwhile, a House-Senate conference committee will try to agree on a budget. This is basically the same House-Senate conference committee that the Senate Democrats have tried to create nearly two dozen times over the past seven months. The Republicans resisted, arguing that it all might be a trick to raise the debt ceiling. Which is now being raised. So it’s fair, if you have the urge, to say that this whole ordeal has been for nothing whatsoever.
Any further consideration of what is going to happen with Congress and budgets would require bringing up the sequester issue. Sequester is incredibly important, but, really, we’ve already been through a lot lately and I believe a rest is in order.
Instead, discuss the following: Would you say that Congress is more like the movie “Gravity” (government employees helplessly adrift in space) or the movie “Captain Phillips” (hero trapped in small, sweaty place with unstable people waving guns)?
I am going for “Captain Phillips,” which has Tom Hanks stuck in a lifeboat-capsule with three Somali pirates: the navigator who does not know how to steer, the strongman who keeps shrieking and threatening everybody, and a nice kid who is in way over his head.
Obviously, we the people get the Tom Hanks role. Everybody likes Tom Hanks. I will allow you to attach congressional identities to each pirate. Feel free to bring up Ted Cruz.
Gail Collins is a columnist for The New York Times.