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The V.A. Shuffle

Grieving in Columbia

“If the price tag is any indication, Sanders compromised quite a bit – the Senate bill, which passed in June on a 93-to-3 vote, had a price tag of $35 billion over 10 years. This new agreement with the GOP-led House has reduced the aid package to $15 billion, less than half the original total.”

Steve Benen

Perhaps some of us recall a recent Beltway dustup when it was discovered that the Veterans Administration was apparently failing to do its job, even going so far as to keep secret lists describing reality while devising all sorts of lies on paper to suggest everything was … well … that is the question, isn’t it?

After all, perhaps some of us also remember that the idea of the VA as a bureaucratic nightmare akin to that planet-eating monster thing in Rise of the Silver Surfer, a film that, like the 113th Congress, probably should have been shelved, or else simply never greenlit.

We all know the cycle; this is just a particularly ugly manifestation. Indeed, it seems a perpetual part of our American experience; take a noble endeavor that cannot be recorded in body counts, territorial annexations, or ledgers, and think about how a society engages those challenges.

Twenty years ago, it was schools. The “No Child Left Behind” debacle was the height of a movement idea. The schools, facing budgetary issues challenging their ability to perform their jobs, were told that they needed to show they could do the job without the extra money, and then the legislatures would consider writing the checks.

Step one? Describe the problem.

Step two? Refuse to do anything about the problem.

Step three? Tell people that if they show they can solve the problem without the legislature’s help, the legislature will consider the possibility of just maybe deciding to do something to help.

To wit, perhaps some might also conjure up a strange memory, seemingly recent, in which a sitting U.S. Senator castigated veterans support groups for failing to agree with him. (more…)

Something to Keep an Eye On

USCapitol-bw

“What was the point of all that? This just shoots you in the arm! It doesn’t make breakfast at all!”

—Peter Griffin

Sausage. Rube Goldberg. Speak nothing of the breakfast machine.

FamilyGuy-BreakfastMachineThere are more elegant metaphors, but most involve some sort of mythic creatures, sci-fi awesomeness, or simply the hand of God. Oh, wait, I said mythic creatures. I don’t know, maybe we can low-bid for those witches from MacBeth.

Exhibit A: Beltway gossip.

Sen. Ted Cruz met with roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans for around two hours late Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast.

The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.

Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.

The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans. And, it seems, leadership unwittingly became aware of the meetup.

Fuller

The appearance is obvious; Sen. Cruz is already known to be plotting against Speaker Boehner. The question at this point is what he thinks he is working toward.

(more…)