Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.  Apparently no one has mentioned this to Republican congressional “leadership”.

The Republicans have no good options as they cast around for a solution to their speakership problem.  McCarthy can try to make concessions to secure the support of the Freedom Caucus.  These concessions will empower the obstructionists in the FC and will make the House ungovernable.  The result will be interminable gridlock and recriminations at best and a catastrophic debt default at worse.  We’ve been down this road before.  If Boehner couldn’t manage the FC there’s no reason to think McCarthy can.  Another option for Republicans is to look for an alternative to McCarthy from within the party.  It’s not obvious what problem this solves.  The smart move for the non-FC Republicans might be to seize the high ground of compromise and work with Democrats to find an acceptable national unity Speaker, but it’s difficult to see this happening.

In the meantime, both President Biden and Senator Schumer are talking up bipartisanship and compromise.  This is clearly the right move.  If it succeeds, they will get most of the credit, because Biden is President and because moderation and compromise are part of Biden’s brand.  If bipartisanship fails and the next two years are an unending legislative shit-show, the Democrats will need to persuade voters that this is not their fault, and a combination of bipartisan talk and Freedom Caucus insanity make this seem like a realistic outcome.

For what it’s worth, I think that Biden should outline relatively bipartisan, compromise proposals.  His main priority should be a plan to shore up the finances of Social Security, to ensure that there are no benefit cuts.  He should offer to accept a plan that does not involve benefit increases and frame this as a concession, because he and his party believe that benefits should be increased, and he should challenge Republicans to give up their demand for cuts.  This positioning will let him lambaste Republicans when they try to use the debt ceiling as leverage for benefit cuts.  Biden should emphasize that solving the problem is urgent, so that he can use the issue as a cudgel in the 2024.

I think Biden should also urge compromise on other high profile issues, including immigration reform and drug pricing, and he should ask for a bipartisan approach to regional economic development.  Immigration reform is a very difficult issue, and I understand why Democrats are loathe to compromise.  But the current system is tremendously unfair to immigrants, bad for the country as a whole (we need immigration), and a political albatross for Democrats, especially with Biden nominally responsible for preventing illegal immigration, an impossible charge.  We need to find a way to make some progress, or at the very least show an interest in finding solutions.