The Shutdown Is Not ‘Everybody’s Fault’

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

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 »
NEXT THURSDAY
Trump Transition Team Meeting with Silicon Valley VIPs
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."

Source:
WHAT WILL PASS?
McConnell Doubts Criminal Justice Reform Can Pass This Year
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
ALSO FIRED UNATTRACTIVE WAITRESSES
Trump Did Business with Cuba
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Today in bad news for Donald Trump:

  • Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
POST-DEBATE SURVEYS
Clinton Holds Lead in Five Battlegrounds
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.

Source:
TIME TO SPLIT
House Passes CR, Sends Bill to President’s Desk
15 hours ago
THE LATEST
×