Jonathan Bernstein wrote a really great article over at The American Prospect, The Day After Shutdown. Although he doesn’t think there will be a shutdown, he has put together an overview of how a shutdown would get resolved. Based upon it, I can see why he doesn’t think a shutdown will happen. The whole thing seems pretty straight forward. So you have to wonder why the Republicans would allow it. There is one very good reason, however: there is too much power in the House Republican caucus vested in inexperienced legislators who don’t know what they are doing. In that case, this will be a learning opportunity.
The beginning of it is obvious. Parts of the government will shutdown and this will anger people who will complain to our representatives in Washington. This will cause Congress to at least try to put together some limited fixes—you know, things like the air traffic controller fix to the Sequester (can’t allow the rich to suffer). And the partisan press will blame the other side.
The whole thing gets interesting when the mainstream press gets involved. Bernstein argues that they will come down on the side of the Democrats. This isn’t because the mainstream press is liberal. (In part, that’s because they aren’t.) As he correctly notes, the main way that the press is biased is toward the status quo. Thus, they will not see a government shutdown as a good thing—especially when it is done for an unprecedented reason: to defund one bit of legislation that they don’t have the votes to repeal in the normal democratic way.
He adds a very important footnote:
As the media goes, so goes the public and this will lead the parties to the bargaining table. What the final deals is, is uncertain. It will depend upon which side is the more desperate, but that will most likely be the Republicans. As Bernstein says, “[The deal] probably won’t even be as good for Republicans as whatever their best deal would have been before a shutdown, and it might even be better than the status quo for Democrats.”
Assuming that Obamacare is not defunded, the Democrats will win this fight. The Republicans set it up that way. If they had said they wanted a trillion dollars cut from the budget and ended up with a hundred billion, they could claim victory. But defunding Obamacare is all or nothing. They’ve argued that Obamacare is such a big threat to freedom in America that it must be stopped. That doesn’t allow for any compromise. In the end, I think they will look both weak and incompetent. That’s very bad for them.
Bernstein explains where that leaves the Republican Party: nowhere.
That’s correct. Just like Christians whose leaders promise the Second Coming of Jesus that never comes, the Republicans will always have an explanation for why they were always right. The only way they go away is through electoral defeat. The crazies cannot be reformed; they must be defeated. And it seems the crazies are determined to defeat themselves.