Can you say lost day?
Can you say 24 hours closer to joining the pantheon of deadbeat nations?
Can you say turning on the default spigot of poison gas? (Warren Buffet can.)
That's where the nation is left this morning after the frantic, feckless and failed efforts Tuesday by House Republicans to agree on a path to avoid our nation's default and end our government's shutdown.
After the GOP House leadership waved the white flag, unable to appease factions that included the hard-line defund Obamacare crowd, the issue moved back to the Democratic-controlled Senate.
By late night, there were strong signs that a deal would emerge today to reopen the government until Jan. 15, and lift the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
But not before Fitch Ratings put the U.S. government's AAA credit on "ratings watch negative." That signals a potential credit downgrade, directly related to the politics of the default/debt ceiling mess.
While Wall Street retreated Tuesday, early international market reports today suggested they were edging lower, but nothing precipitous as of this writing.
Neither the House nor the Senate, which adjourned at 10 p.m. Tuesday, has a set agenda today, but will be in session.
Here's how the stage has been set for today's efforts to avoid default:
- A scathing lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal advises the Republicans to "wrap up this comedy of political errors." The business bible accused the party of blundering by choosing an unachievable goal – trying to defund Obamacare – and picking the politically unsustainable tactic of using government shutdown and threats to "blow through the debt limit" to get there.
Bottom line from the WSJ: "Republicans can best help their cause now by getting this over with and moving on to fight more intelligently another day."
- Speculation continues over what tactics Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the leader of the GOP's anti-Obamacare caucus, may use to derail Senate efforts to craft a last-minute deal to avoid default. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss told NPR's Morning Edition today that he doubts Cruz and his loyal lieutenant, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, will act to delay. "They're probably looking at the next round," Chambliss predicted.
- And Republicans are facing down one of the most damaging periods in recent memory, one that analysts including Josh Barro at Business Insider say raises the natural question of the party's competence and ability to take care of the nation's best interests. "There is not serious argument for Republican governance right now, even if you prefer conservative policies over liberal ones," Barro writes. "A party that is this bad at tactics can't be expected to be any good at policy-making."
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put it more succinctly: "We screwed up."
Outside of Washington, here are some other stories we've been following:
- Former Secretary of State Senator/First Lady/prospective 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a closed-door appearance before a trade group reportedly took pains to note that Vice President Joe Biden opposed the administration's raid that ended up in the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Biden has not ruled out a presidential run in 2016.
- The Federal Reserve today releases its periodic "Beige Book" report that tracks economic conditions, including home sales, consumer spending, lending activity and employment. The anecdotal data is the Reserve's 12 regional banks. In September, the report found "modest to moderate" growth nationally.
- Voters in New Jersey go to the polls today to elect a new U.S. senator. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, is expected to prevail over Republican Steve Lonegan.