The Shutdown Is Not ‘Everybody’s Fault’

The crisis is a failure of governance, but one party is entirely to blame.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif.
National Journal
Patrick Reis
Add to Briefcase
Patrick Reis
Oct. 1, 2013, 10:21 a.m.

Come crisis time, it’s the time-tested meth­od for play­ing it safe. You is­sue a mealy-mouthed state­ment about how “both sides are to blame” for not reach­ing a deal. You say both Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans need to com­prom­ise, and you claim mag­nan­im­ity in your sup­port of a “bal­anced” com­prom­ise. You write “Come to­geth­er” on your cof­fee cup.

But this time around, that’s all non­sense. Where you place blame for the shut­down de­pends en­tirely on how you an­swer its fun­da­ment­al ques­tion: Do Re­pub­lic­ans have the right to de­mand policy con­ces­sions — namely, Obama­care con­ces­sions — in ex­change for ex­tend­ing the fed­er­al budget?

If you be­lieve that Re­pub­lic­ans de­serve policy con­ces­sions, then re­spons­ib­il­ity for the shut­down rests en­tirely with Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, Pres­id­ent Obama, and their fel­low Demo­crats.

After all, when it comes to Obama­care, the run-up to shut­down saw House Re­pub­lic­ans take big steps to­ward com­prom­ise. They star­ted the de­bate de­mand­ing Obama­care be en­tirely de­fun­ded. Then they moved to a re­quest that the health care law be delayed a year and its med­ic­al-device tax per­man­ently re­pealed. And by their third and fourth at­tempts, Re­pub­lic­ans were at­tack­ing only the law’s sub­sidies for Con­gress and the ad­min­is­tra­tion — a cru­cial as­pect for belt­way res­id­ents, but a purely sym­bol­ic blow on the na­tion­al level.

All of them, from gut­ting the law to prick­ing it, got the ex­act same re­ac­tion from Re­id: no deal.

But if you be­lieve Re­pub­lic­ans are re­spons­ible for keep­ing the gov­ern­ment open, and they don’t de­serve any policy perks for do­ing so, then the shut­down blame is theirs and theirs alone.

With­in that paradigm, Re­pub­lic­ans are de­mand­ing something for noth­ing. They’re de­mand­ing changes to Obama­care without of­fer­ing to back any of Demo­crats’ top policy pri­or­it­ies. No gay mar­riage, no gun con­trol, no high­er tax rates for the highest earners, no pub­lic op­tion, no noth­ing.

And from a purely fisc­al per­spect­ive, the policy-free budget ex­ten­sion is a straight-down-the-middle com­prom­ise. It doesn’t in­clude the fur­ther spend­ing cuts Re­pub­lic­ans cov­et, nor does it in­clude any Demo­crat­ic pri­or­it­ies such as ad­di­tion­al fund­ing for do­mest­ic pro­grams or a re­verse of the se­quester.

So you can be­lieve that Re­pub­lic­ans forced a shut­down by tak­ing the gov­ern­ment host­age to muscle through changes they couldn’t get through reg­u­lar or­der. Or you can blame Demo­crats for re­fus­ing to make any changes what­so­ever to Obama­care in ex­change for keep­ing the gov­ern­ment open.

But you can’t blame them both.

What We're Following See More »
19 FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
Latest Count: 12 Trump Campaign Staffers Had Contact with Russians
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
THREE STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR
Eight Seaman Rescued as Navy Plane Goes Down Near Japan
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement."

Source:
AT ISSUE: COMEY FIRING, SESSIONS’S RECUSAL
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Source:
MULVANEY SAYS PROVISION ISN’T A DEALBREAKER
Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Source:
FRANKEN JUST THE BEGINNING?
Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login