Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
Yesterday afternoon, in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the Treasury Department set a firm (or firmer) deadline of mid-October by which Congress has to increase the debt limit. Before Monday, the country’s borrowing authority was expected to lapse sometime between mid-October and mid-November; now we know the moment will arrive sooner rather than later.
That means Congress has just a couple weeks to affirm the full faith and credit of the country after it completes whatever steps it takes to avoid a government shutdown next month. And some observers are understandably spooked by such a quick succession of events.
The idea, articulated here by Kevin Drum, and here by Alex Seitz-Wald is that a late-autumn or early-winter X-date would have given House Republicans some time to lick their wounds over failing to defund Obamacare, regroup, then repeat the process all over again. Boehner himself amplified the sense of alarm by predicting a “whale of a fight” over entitlements in the coming weeks.
But what we have here is a misunderstanding of what Boehner’s capable of and what needs to happen from a member-management persepective for the House to increase the debt limit.
The ideal scenario, whether borrowing authority expires in October or November is as follows: Boehner introduces legislation that both increases (or extends) the debt limit and includes some goodies for conservatives that make the bill a non-starter with Senate Democrats and the President (maybe a year-long delay of the individual mandate — let your imaginations run wild); that bill fails on the House floor; everyone panics; faced with no better option, Boehner breaks the Hastert rule, puts a tidy, Senate-passed debt limit bill on the floor, and we all dress up as Speaker Pelosi for Halloween.
As you can see, there are a number of ways that actual events might deviate from the above scenario. Boehner could surprise everyone and actually get a debt limit bill through the House with 218 Republican votes. The Senate could fail to pass a debt limit bill of its own. Maybe party leaders make a collective decision to punt.
But for the past year or so, this is how Congress has dealt with its hard deadlines. Nothing about the timing of those deadlines changes that dynamic per se. Early this year, the House passed its fiscal cliff bill, disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims, VAWA reauthorization, and a debt limit extension all within a few weeks of each other.
What would change the story is if members themselves change their behavior.
But so far everyone’s playing their part. Boehner isn’t making any extreme procedural demands. And just this morning Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made clear that Democrats’ offer to Boehner remains ‘nothing,’ including relatively weak hacks at Obamacare.
“Is there any circumstance under which the administration would accept either a delay in parts of Obamacare or a defunding of parts of Obamcare?” asked CNBC host John Harwood.
“No,” Lew said. This might sound alarmingly confrontational but it’s actually exactly where we ought to be at this point in the story.
If the mid-October deadline does actually create problems for Boehner, or he decides he wants to go one more round, he has another option: He can extend appropriations and the debt limit simultaneously, and schedule both to expire at the same time. Another New Year’s Eve showdown maybe. He can even pretend it creates new leverage for the GOP.
Indeed, here the GOP really does have leverage: specifically over whether people like me get to enjoy the holidays. But as far as extracting concessions from Obama goes, this option too would simply delay the inevitable.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.