It looks like they are going to go past another self-imposed crisis deadline. They are still just playing the blame game and there is no sign of any deal — in fact there’s no sign of any imminent serious negotiation.
The Republicans are betting that people won’t notice. (They are right that right now people are not paying attention.)
It is a test case for their libertarian fairy tale dogma, that we’d all be better off if the government wasn’t there. They honestly believe that any reduction in the size of the government will be a good thing, no matter how recklessly hamfisted it is accomplished.
The Democrats are betting that people will blame the Republicans for the pain. Somehow this will spur them to act reasonably? Since when do the GOP care what the people want?
The Democrats are also betting that the one thing Republicans love more than protecting billionaires’ money is maximizing their ability to kill foreigners (a.k.a., the “defense” budget). They could be right that it would be easier to roll back the defense cuts later (after another convenient terrorist attack) than to reimpose tax cuts and loopholes that favor the Crazy Rich.
What could really spur the GOP (and the Dems to) to action is if the stock market takes a hit. Their financial plutocrat masters will come down and say, “OK, children, you’ve made your points. Enough playing around. My money is at risk. Do this game later when the economy is in better shape.” On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if the plutocrats have already concocted a way to get even richer by shorting the whole economy.
So why did the plutocrats allow the sequester to exist in the first place? Mainly, because it was the lever to avoid a debt-ceiling crash back in August 2011. The plutocrats live in a short term bias bubble: they want to get as much money as they can as fast as they can. “If the world is ruined a decade from now, who cares? I’ve got mine now, F- the future. I’ll probably be dead before the real effects kick in.” Avoiding the 2011 crash with a sequester trigger in the deal seemed like a good idea at the time. Even the plutocrats naively hoped the future congress over the next 17 months would avoid the sequester cuts (or that the economy would be healthy enough to take the hit by then).
For now, bet on the money. After the deadline, if the market tanks enough, the congresscritters will be persuaded by their masters to come to their senses and delay their deficit hawkery. It will be interesting to see how they explain their epiphany in a way that lets them save face. Stay tuned.