Question of the day: What is the opposite of shut down?
Answer of the day: Shut up!
Maybe not the best joke, but it’s the only remark I haven’t heard in the government shutdown debate.
Let’ see. We are into the eighteenth government shutdown in three decades. No one believes that the government is going to stay closed for very long or that the contending parties will not reach a compromise. And yet, we have arrived at this impasse, at this moment of high political theatre because the Republicans refuse to submit to Harry Reid and Barack Obama and because Democrats feel that the issue is playing well for them.
It does not make very much sense for Republicans to shut down the government in a vain attempt to save the American people from themselves. Keep in mind Obamacare, medical device tax and all, was duly enacted by people who were democratically elected.
If the American people have buyer’s remorse, they need but vote for candidates who want to repeal the whole hulking mess.
Why didn’t they do it the last time? Because the Republican Party, in its infinite wisdom nominated the architect of Romneycare, the precursor of Obamacare.
If Obamacare is really going to be that bad, and if it is really going to hurt those who voted for Obama, perhaps Republicans should heed Dan Henninger’s advice: get out of the way; let it happen; let the people suffer for their foolish votes. How else are they going to learn?
If you are really confident that Obamacare is that bad, you should get out of the way and let it drag down the Democratic Party with it.
Numerous anti-Henningerians have replied that it is irresponsible to allow people to suffer when it is possible to forestall it. Besides, it we look at all the other quasi-socialist programs that have been enacted over lo these many decades, we see that once they get their tentacles into America it’s impossible to get rid of them.
A cogent point, dare I say. It would be more cogent if the Republicans had any chance of stopping the inexorable advance of Obamacare. They do not, so their efforts feel like an exercise in futility, at the least.
Tyler Cowan offers a refreshing counterview. He suggests that by forcing a government shutdown the Republicans are staking out a very public position against the law. House Republicans voted to defund and repeal Obamacare dozens of time, but as political theatre, Cowan says, the government shutdown makes the point more clearly and openly.
It’s a good argument. But since the Republican Party standard bearer in the last election was a man who has been called the architect of American socialized medicine, it rings slightly hollow.
If Republicans had been inclined to finesse the problem, they have another obstacle. They are dealing with Democrats who refuse to negotiate. From Harry Reid to Barack Obama Democratic leaders have demanded that Republicans submit.
(Today’s quiz: the name of which religion translates into English as: submission?)
It’s one thing to say that Republicans should be reasonable and should accept political reality. It’s quite another to say that they should submit to the will of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.
If Congressional Republicans caved in to imperious demands from Democrats they would alienate a considerable portion of their base, not for being RINOs, but for looking weak and ineffectual.
In a struggle for status and prestige, one should not accept a subservient position. Once you lose face, it is extremely difficult to get it back.
Of course, Washington’s Kabuki theatre is not just about the government shutdown. The larger and more important issue is: who is going to take the blame for the many failures of the Obama administration. Is the president to blame or are obstructionist Republicans responsible for Washington’s political dysfunction, and, more importantly, for a substandard economic recovery.
Everyone knows that the economy is in trouble. Everyone knows that one of these days the Federal Reserve is going to take away the punch bowl. Everyone knows that when that day arrives the bloom will be off the Obama recovery and the economy will fall to earth.
If everyone knows it, the Democrats know it. When the inevitable comes to pass, Democrats want, above all else, to blame it on Republicans. That is their modus operandi. Right now they are paving the way.
Remember the debate over the sequester? Remember when the Democrats were claiming that the sequester would destroy the economy? Notice how the Democrats are saying that the government shutdown will destroy the economy?
If that is not enough, within a little more than two weeks the Congress will be embroiled in yet another game of chicken over the debt ceiling. Already, Obama is conflating the debt ceiling debate with the government shutdown. He is threatening to allow the United States government to default on its debt, an event that might well be as cataclysmic as people think it will be. If the government doesn’t default on its debt, many programs will need to be cut.
The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are trying as hard as they can to connect the Republican Party with the eventual failure of the Obama recovery.
To be fair and balanced, Bob Woodward believes that when the economy fails the people will understand that the fault lies with the president.
Talking about the upcoming debt limit issue, Woodward seems to be trying to induce Obama into providing some leadership. Either way, here is a transcript of his remarks:
Can I enter in here just for a moment because I think it’s a good question. And there is something the president could be doing. He said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling. A reasonable position. “I will not be blackmailed” he said. But he should be talking. They should be meeting, discussing this, because as I think Steve Ratner showed earlier, the American economy is at stake and the president, if there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could happen here that’s bad, it’s going to be on his head. The history books are going to say, we had an economic calamity in the Presidency of Barack Obama. Speaker Boehner, indeed, is playing a role on this. Go back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. I’ll bet no one can name who was the speaker of the House at the time. Henry Thomas Rainey. He’s not in the history book it’s on the president’s head. He’s got to lead. He’s got to talk. And the absence of discussion here, I think, is baffling element.
I will leave it to others to figure out what Woodward means when he says that it’s OK not to negotiate but that the parties ought to be talking.