This one--a 16-member bipartisan Senate group led by Maine's Susan Collins and West Virginia's Joe Manchin--is called the "common sense caucus." It's a straining distinction meant to stigmatize the other dozens of ideological congressional caucuses out there; on today's Capitol Hill, "common sense" mostly means a herding of the absolute lowest common denominators and a last-ditch postponement of any truly difficult options.
Thus the common sense caucus sees itself as a support group in reserve for the Murray-Ryan conference committee, which is already busy postponing difficult options by assembling an assortment of lower common denominators. Should Murray-Ryan get stuck, however, in their race to mediocrity's bottom, Collins-Manchin will heroically intervene with the absolute lowest ones, and therein shall lie the peace. That, anyway, is the plan, if I may use that word in relation to this Congress.
It's a nice plan, a happy plan, even a realistic plan--right up to the moment that we remember the GOP House, America's reigning kakistocracy. Will the lowest common denominators, senatorially proffered, be low enough?--which is to ask, harmful enough to budgetary prudence and sufficiently damaging to any economic recovery?
It's hard to imagine any plan coming out of senatorial minds that's stupid enough for the GOP House to embrace. It, the House, is riding high at the moment, so giddily obsessed with Obamacare's lows that it's about to pop. Will, then, House Republicans pause their celebratory orgy, merely to prevent another government shutdown? Or will they use those lows to prolong their high, in a replay of October? In short, are they really that stupid?
Our political Christmas this year may not come till January. 'Tis indeed the season of hope.