Here is a way out of permanent crisis: President Obama should demand the repeal of all artificial deadlines and tell both houses of Congress that he won’t make further proposals until each actually passes a replacement to the sequester — not a gimmick or something that looks like an alternative, but the real thing.
With everyone on the record, normal discussions could begin, and Washington would no longer look like the set of a horror movie in which a new catastrophe lurks around every corner.
The solution to the problems of democracy is more democracy, so let both houses hold votes on all the potential remedies — on Obama’s own proposal, on packages put forward by Democrats Chris Van Hollen in the House and Patty Murray in the Senate, and on anything the Republicans care to proffer, including the sequester itself.
Let the House Republican majority show that it can come up with a substantial alternative or, failing that, allow a plan to pass with a mix of Republican and Democratic votes.
In the Senate, ditch the unconstitutional abuse of the filibuster and let a plan pass by simple-majority vote. Misuse of the filibuster is a central cause of Washington’s contorted policymaking. Let’s end the permanent budget crisis by governing ourselves though the majorities that every sane democracy uses.
The air of establishment Washington is filled with talk that Obama must “lead.” But Obama cannot force the House Republican majority to act if it doesn’t want to. He is (fortunately) not a dictator.
What Obama can do is expose the cause of this madness, which is the dysfunction of the Republican Party.
Journalists don’t like saying this because it sounds partisan. But the truth is the truth, whether it sounds partisan or not.