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'Groundhog Day' politics continue to dominate on Capitol Hill

Associated Press

Even if you never saw "Groundhog Day," you're probably familiar with the general plot: Bill Murray's character gets stuck in a time loop in which he experiences the exact same day, over and over again. He sees the same people, hears the same words, and suffers through the same unpleasant experiences.

It's a bit like watching Congress of late.

House Republicans will bring to the floor a bill to create a bipartisan, bicameral committee to address the current fiscal impasse that has shut down much of the government and threatens a debt default.

A GOP leadership aide said the committee wouldn't just handle the continuing resolution needed to fund the government. It would have broader jurisdiction similar to the 2011 Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the supercommittee, and would cover the debt limit and other fiscal issues.

A GOP appropriations aide also described the working group as similar to the supercommittee, but on a smaller scale, and without instructions.

Oh, good, another similar-but-different supercommittee. At a certain point, I'd like Republicans to at least show a little pride in themselves, and stop presenting nonsense, but that's probably too much to ask.

And why is this supercommittee idea ridiculous. A couple of reasons, actually. First, we've tried this, over and over again, to no avail. As Ezra Klein explained last week," Here is a partial list of bipartisan budget negotiations we've had since 2010: The Simpson-Bowles Commission.The Domenici-Rivlin commission. The Cantor-Biden talks. The Obama-Boehner debt-ceiling negotiations. The Gang of Six talks. The 'Supercommittee.' The Obama-Boehner fiscal-cliff talks. All these negotiations have one thing in common: They ultimately failed."

Correct. They failed because Republicans refused to consider concessions as part of a larger compromise. Has that position suddenly changed? Not even a little -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared just 48 hours ago that he wants budget talks in which Republicans get Democratic concessions in exchange for nothing.

So what would be the point of another committee? There would be no point.

"I want to have a conversation," said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. "I'm not drawing lines in the sand. I'm requesting to sit down to resolve our differences."

Boehner added, "there's no boundaries here. There's nothing on the table, there's nothing off the table. I'm trying to do everything I can to bring people together and have a conversation."

In all sincerity, I would genuinely love to know whether Boehner believes the words he says out loud. The Speaker has been involved in many "conversations," and in each instance, he's refused to work towards a bipartisan solution. Senate Democrats began asking for budget talks in April, but Boehner and his party refused to have the "conversation" because they wanted to wait until there was a hostage they could threaten.

And now what he's proposing isn't a "conversation" so much as a forum in which Democrats can offer Republican treats in exchange for GOP lawmakers doing their jobs. There's "nothing off the table" except for all of the things he's already taken off the table.

Best of all, Democrats would still accept this offer and join Boehner for this "conversation" if he'd only end the government shutdown. But for the Speaker, that's not an option -- he only wants to negotiate when he can threaten deliberate harm to Americans if the "conversation" doesn't go the way he wants it go.

I guess we can add another word to the list of words Republicans define differently than other English-speaking people.

The nation doesn't need another committee in which far-right lawmakers refuse to compromise. What the nation needs is an open government and policymakers who'll protect the full faith and credit of the United States. This really isn't complicated, folks.