Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Opposite of Shut Down

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.


The Dark Lord said...

Leadership in not only about winning but also about taking a stand on principle ...

If you quit without a fight then the next time you will be in an even weaker position ...

100% of short putts have never gone in the hole ...

you can lose 8 innings of baseball and still win the game ... but not if you quit in the eight inning ...

Anonymous said...

Obama is a Muslim trying to get Republicans to submit to the will of Allah--Barack Obama. Oh, that's not crazy.

Of course, he and Hlllary and Huma (and probably Sonya Sotomayor, too) meet regularly to discuss their Islamist Muslism plots to take over America. Everyone knows its true!

That's not crazy, either!

I love it!

You reveal the total whack job you really are underneath all the blather.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Woodward. Ultimately President Obama will be held responsible for all negative consequences of the shutdown.

However given Obama carries the burden of responsibility, that means he's justified in taking power of responsibility away from congress and signing an executive order that will bypass his hostage takers and ending the symbol debt-limit vote by congress, and letting the courts decide if he was justified in defending the honor of our collective obligations against a Congress that is unable to do its jobs.

So if the tea-party Republicans want to provoke presidential overstep, they'll get what they want soon enough, BUT they'll look pretty stupid arguing that they have a right to threaten the standing and status of the United States for partisan apeasement.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats could never go the "We're not negotiating" route without a groveling, sycophantic mainstream media apparatus enabling them. Can you imagine a Republican administration and/or Senate taking this obstinate approach? They'd be publicly flogged, pilloried and then left to rot under a Potomac bridge. Journalists fancy themselves as the vanguard of a free republic, the unnamed Fourth Estate in the American political system. My eye! The result is our government becomes bigger and more intrusive, a reflection of the elitist, self-congratulatory nihilist philosophy they all subscribe to. It's not about quasi-Christian virtues of taking care of others. It's about power... naked, shameless power over those whose lives they know how to best run. It threatens the American concept of liberty, freedom and self-government.

Anonymous said...

I am sick and tired of hearing the politicians and chattering classes saying "Our political system has broken down" or "Our political system is broken." This is a set-up for the next stanza in an executive power-grab, just like the federal power-grab in the Progressive era, the executive power-grab in the New Deal/Cold War era, the judicial power-grab since the 1960s, the Congressional power-grab in the wake of Watergate.

Our political system is working just fine, thank you. It is designed to be slow, cumbersome and deliberative. It is designed for a centering, two-party political separation to ensure a fight over the center rather than single-issue, fanatical parties at the margins of society. It is built around compromise. When compromises cannot be reached, there is gridlock... a Constitutionally-designed impasse. If there's no clear public will, stuff doesn't get done. Thank God for the separation of powers!

Yes, Obama won an election. Two, actually. Good for him. The chamber designed to be closest to the popular will, the House of Representatives, went hard for him in the wake of his first election, and remained with the opposition party after his second. The first instance reflected a powerful popular tide of "hope and change" (which it got), and the 2010 house elections showed popular desire for a check on federal/executive power. This is how our Constitution works, and is no doubt very frustrating to one side. No doubt the other says "Join the club." How just.

(Continued below)

Anonymous said...

The Constitution is bigger and more important than a bunch of Washington egos. ObamaCare isn't the first piece of crummy, ill-conceived legislation to go through through the process of becoming a law. The Republic can survive this intrusion and make it palatable over time. What the Republic cannot survive is another executive power-grab that unilaterally amends and enforces the law to its liking, and/or creates a flurry of executive orders that intrude on clear Congressional authority under the Constitution. This would create a Constitutional crisis. Given that Obama showed he was willing to risk a Constitutional crisis over something so stupid as his Syria gamble, I fear for our Republic.

America was founded on the ideal of individual self-government, with general welfare acceded to the states, and mutual protection to the federal government. All these expensive entitlements enacted over the last 80 years have radically altered this self-governing ideal, appealing to the unfortunate demons of our human nature in centralizing power in a federal leviathan that so many Founders feared. It makes government dependence more attractive than autonomous aspirations, dependence which can be enforced at a voting booth, enabling the continuation of entitlements that are beyond the federal governments's constitutionally-enumerated powers and beyond the long-term interest of the citizenry (read: bankruptcy or hyper-inflation). The result: desperation, subjugation and pain without recourse.

When you look at Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ and Obama, you see forces of personality who (a) found the American Constitution limited their grandiose plans; and (b) would take executive action beyond their authority -- including sweeping, expansive war powers -- that eroded individual liberty. These figures led the assault on established American cultural, economic, social and political values. Why? Because they knew (know) best. That is a frightening realization of the darker forces of human nature the Founders recognized and sought to contain. Well, the jini's out of the bottle now, eh?

So we now have two sides staring each other down over control of one-seventh of our modern economy. How'd we get to this point? Well, seems clear that Obama isn't going to compromise on his signature legislation because of his principles and ego-driven desire for his "legacy?" Yet the Tea Party was founded on the idea that the economic trajectory of Federal entitlement spending would ruin the country, and that compromise with the Democratic Party would only ratchet-up that spending. So they're principled, too. And now we're at an impasse. Seems like our political system is working just fine. Take a look at who says it isn't, and what they want. Does that align with your values and your understanding if human nature? Does it reflect a sound understanding if how our American political system works? Who are we listening to?


Bonus Question: Do we as citizens have enough money for every president to have a presidential library and a federal entitlement "legacy?"

Dennis said...

Anyone notice that the stock market did NOT go down and bonds, which are counter cyclical, moved down just a bit? I would suggest that no administration is going to default on the debt because one, they have the money and two, it would pretty much put an end to them.
I would also posit that if the Republicans hold the line that it will become evident that we can do without a lot of "non essential" personnel. If one remembers, despite the desire on some people's part to blame it, the sequester did not end the world.
I would further suggest that once the polling begins to turn against Obama and the Democrats they will bargain. The polling is only two points apart, within the error rate, which means that it does not bode well for the democrats if this goes on for just a while so that the voters in this country can see that maybe there are place to trim the size of government. remember the Republicans did well after the last shut down.
The whole democrat, and their sycophants in the media, strategy depends on the Republicans folding before it becomes apparent that we can do without a lot of government. Once we get past the media filter and a significant number of voters understand that Obama is the leader of his party and can put an end to it Obama loses. The first sentence above demonstrate that it is Obama and the democrats who are actually holding the country hostage.
It will be interesting to see if Obama is willing to create a sell off by using the offices of the federal government. I have to admit I now understand why we cannot win wars because we lack the will to stay the course. Well at least WWII veterans still have the guts to go where they please.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...


In advantage lies the seeds of disadvantage and in disadvantage lies the seeds of advantage. (SIC) One has to look at longer term to recognize the advantages that are available if people are thinking past today and forward to October 17th.

Sam L. said...

" Keep in mind Obamacare, medical device tax and all, was duly enacted by people who were democratically elected."

True, but on a party-line vote. They had to "pass it to find out what was in it". Because there are 2700+ pages that no one person read. And OCare has never been popular with the people.