Wednesday, March 14, 2012

House Budget Follies Very Unlikely To Yield Shutdown Crisis

Via Greg, Reuters is reporting that the House GOP's efforts to produce a budget with appropriations bills coming in lower than the debt limit deal's caps may produce a government shutdown this September. As one who was very much expecting a shutdown at some point last year, I may not have great prognosticating powers on this one, but: I don't buy the hype on this at all.

No, I think that it's what Stan Collender diagnosed:
Getting the reduced levels in the budget resolution but not in the appropriations bills may seem to the base like the same type of hollow victory the GOP has won on other budget issues, and it could create disappointment so close to the elections that the leadership won’t have the opportunity to explain it away.
Well, actually, I think it's what he diagnosed, but I think it's a smarter move than he thinks it is. After all, Republican Members aren't worried about Tea Party revolts in September and October, when intense GOP voters will be riled up with hatred of Barack Obama and (gulp) love of Mitt Romney (okay, maybe not love, but they'll be all-out for him if the election is at all close). No, the time to worry is now, when primary elections are on their way. And House Republicans already presumably think their Tea Party constituents are fairly easily conned with the "typo of hollow victory the GOP was won on other budget issues."

Moreover, it's unlikely that House Republicans will be voting for anything in a Budget Resolution that they didn't already vote for last year. So while I do think that they've provided plenty of fodder for Democratic attack ads, they won't be adding anything new, and as long as they back off in the fall (perhaps, as Collender predicts, with a continuing resolution to push everything into a lame duck session), it's not as if we're close to the election now.

Basically, I think it makes lots of sense for House Republicans to go for a hollow budget victory now, and then capitulate in the fall. And as hollow budget victories go, a Budget Resolution in a year in which there's no reason to expect the Senate to produce their own budget is a great place to do it. But, no, I don't think it's a prelude to a pre-election government shutdown fight. If Republicans didn't have much interest in that last year, they're really unlikely to do it when they're about to be on a (general election) ballot.

1 comment:

  1. I think you need to decide once and for all if Romney has a problem with his base in the general election or not. You say here, jokingly, that the GOP base will learn to love Romney, and then you jest about it and say well, not "love" but close enough. So which is it -- will they learn to love their nominee, as in most past elections, or not? Just talking to my politically alert friends, I find that this theme comes up a lot, that "ohh, they'll rally around him." But the differences at the margin will matter a lot here! Of course many Republicans will learn to hold their nose or even become downright enthusiastic about Romney -- but if it's 80% of the potentially die-hard voters rather than the usual 90% (assuming you never actually get 100% of any given group to vote), then that's 2 points in the electoral percentages, and suddenly Romney doesn't have a chance at all.

    Among liberal bloggers, you're probably the most warily bullish on Romney as a candidate in the general election of anyone I can think of. I grant that the poli-sci thinking you're throwing at the problem has a lot of validity to it, and I do appreciate the bracing reminders, but I still think you're playing footsie a bit.

    You said a week or two ago that Romney was likely to be an "adequate" nominee in the general election. I myself think that Romney is a poorer campaigner than you've credited him for. To a certain degree, poli-sci as a discipline seems to assume that all candidates are ipso facto adequate, because we all know that the economy and other external factors are what really drive election results yada yada. I'm simplifying here to make the point.

    So my questions to you are: what candidates since 1972 have actually been inadequate -- in other words, what's the bar that you're expecting Romney to clear here? Better or worse than Kerry, Dukakis, GHWB in '92, Dole, McCain, what? I'd be curious.

    And the other question is, is there anything in these primary results lately that (a) is authentically worrisome for Romney, and (b) is somewhat unprecedented for an eventual nominee? All I've heard from you so far on this subject is that Romney will be the nominee and that the general election is a tossup. In my humble opinion, what we've seen so far may be a bit more historically unusual than that, and a touch more hopeful for Obama. And if I've misrepresented you on anything here, I do apologize.


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