The Republican Vice Presidential candidate from the election in November, Paul Ryan, is still a Representative and thus had the option to vote on whether to concur with the Senate amendments known as the “Senate Deal” from last night [January 1], which were intended to avert the “Fiscal Cliff”. He voted in favor.
It is, perhaps, a sign of advancing age and/or the arrival of End Times that while I couldn’t be bothered to stay up on New Year’s Eve, instead choosing to kiss my husband early and go to bed, we did stay up on New Year’s night, to watch House debate on C-SPAN. R. was mostly ignoring it, but I was inserting rude commentary at points and generally enjoying this instance of humiliation for the Republican Party. I also was entertained that the two sides could find so much to fight about while still agreeing that everyone should definitely vote to concur with the Senate Amendments (<-- that, right there, should help answer your question about how a spending bill didn’t originate in the House. It did. Sort of. If you think of a Bill as a whiteboard and you can just erase everything in it and start over, but it’s still the same Bill).
What I failed to notice in the course of the coverage (which I abandoned in favor of listening to Obama’s comments, even tho Kucinich calling for a roll call vote on the Hezbollah thing did seem somewhat amusing), was how Paul Ryan voted. While digging around in the details of what actually passed this morning, I noticed that he split with Rubio (Cantor etc.) and voted in favor, along with Boehner.
From this, I conclude that Paul Ryan _really really really_ thinks he is in line to be the Republican candidate in 2016. Voting against this thing would have been damaging to attempts to be anything like centrist in that campaign, which will be even more important and possibly slightly less difficult for a Republican candidate in 2016 than it was in 2012. Also, further evidence that the extreme right wing of the party has been substantially weakened.
But not dead. Republicans voted against this bipartisan measure by almost 2-1 (unlike their Senate colleagues).
So what happened last night? And why didn’t it happen sooner? The concern was that the legislation _which had expired the night before_ would have the effect of reducing the deficit far faster than our current, recovering economy could stand. We’d go back into recession. It wouldn’t be the kind of recession of a few years ago, our “Mini Great Depression” or “Great Recession” or whatever you care to call that financial crisis induced meltdown and its lasting effects in the real economy, but it would be profoundly discouraging and there was particular concern that financial markets and corporations would respond poorly. The path out of our current mess relies upon growth continuing, hopefully strengthening, but at least not reversing.
While some people feared that panic selling of bonds would result in high inflation, I think anyone sane watching has figured out that the kinds of people who buy US debt instruments for investment purposes are not the kind of people who are going to sell those in the course of a panic. The opposite is true. If you have to tell yourself “least dirty shirt” to feel better about this, fine, but many of the buyers aren’t ever going to buy a foreign shirt anyway [<-- metaphorically speaking. Obviously, we're all buying literal shirts from overseas.]. However, a lot of the not-sane people who worry about increased interest on US debt recognized that would be REALLY bad for the deficit (making it more expensive to finance) and thus applied pressure to compromise.
This is an instance in which people with contradictory beliefs about the world could agree on what the right next step was. It’s important to notice when this happens. Good negotiators take advantage of opportunities to agree on action, even when disagreeing on motivation.
I’m sensitive to this currently, because I’m reading Xavier Amador’s _I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help_, which is about motivational strategies to use to encourage people with serious mental illness (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.) to accept treatment. I can find connections between almost anything, but this particular parallel was pretty freaking obvious.