Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Question for Liberals

Prediction time: will there be a government shutdown this year? If so, who will "win" -- substantively, and politically?

24 comments:

  1. Likely not, which I think is unfortunate, because I think Charles Krauthammer is correct when he calls a shutdown the Democrats' best hope for a return to the House majority.

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  2. Rob in New OrleansAugust 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    The GOP is divided on the issue, so I would say probably not. But the hour approaches when Boehner will have to pick his poison: a gov't shutdown, immigration reform's demise, or his job.

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  3. Don't think conservatives will do that - even most Tea Partiers seem to grasp shutdown or anything that can be depicted as such would be a huge tactical victory for Democrats.

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  4. I'm inclined to agree with the sentiment of the comments here, that is, that a shutdown is unlikely. However, I wonder if Democrats realize they have a huge tactical advantage knowing that a shutdown would be disastrous for Republicans and if they negotiate from that position of strength. Judging by previous showdowns, however, I don't hold out a lot of hope for seeing an aggressive posture from Democrats.

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    1. Negotiating from a position of strength only gets you so far. If you try to overreach, you rightly get the blame causing the shutdown with unreasonable demands.

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    2. It makes sense to think of a shutdown as a tactical victory for the Democratic party, yes. However, it'd likely be yet another horrible economic hit for the economy (part of the reason it'd be bad for Republicans). I'm not sure a tactical victory would be worth it. I wouldn't be surprised if that is also being considered by Dem leadership.

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    3. A brief shutdown would be economically unnoticeable. All federal salaries would be paid and disbursements made, just perhaps slightly delayed.

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    4. wouldn't unemployment checks be delayed? I guess I may be overestimating the problems caused by this.

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  5. OK, just to liven up the thread, I'll be contrarian and say that I think there will be a shutdown. (Truth: I don't know.) Prof. Bernstein has taught us here to think in terms of collective-action problems. They've got a big one in the House, particularly when you factor in news like this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/10/club-for-growth-backs-rep-simpsons-primary-opponent/

    Over the next few months, House Republicans are going to be watching this kind of development very closely. They may well be less worried about the "Tea Party" in the abstract than about political funding groups like Club for Growth, ForAmerica and Freedom Works that are poised to throw money at primary opponents, and that have taken no-compromise positions on Obamacare and the budget standoff:

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/bozell-defunding-obamacare-come-jesus-moment-republicans

    http://www.clubforgrowth.org/news/?subsec=7&id=1224&v=pr

    Boehner could thwart this movement by letting some Senate-crafted compromise come to the floor and pass with Dem votes, but he'd be giving up his speakership, and I don't read his recent moves as signaling a willingness to do that. Again, what's rational for the party collectively probably isn't rational for him.

    I'm not sure we've seen things line up this way before, at least since '95 and maybe not even then. (No FOX then, for instance.) How does a House member vote appropriations for HHS at this point without having that vote spun as a "yes" on an up-down vote over whether to implement Obamacare, thus crushing freedom in this great Republic for all time? The more I think about this, the more I think there's going to be 218 Republicans prepared to roll the dice on a shutdown and hope for the best.

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    1. And to be clear, it wouldn't necessary take even 218.

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    2. Interesting speculation, but how does Boehner stage-manage the shutdown? Do the appropriation bills or CR get to the floor of the House and get shot down? Does one from the Senate never get to the floor, only straight GOP House versions?

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    3. Thanks for laying this explanation out. Beyond ModeratePoli's question, there's also the matter of the debt ceiling increase. For Boehner to break with his party and allow a clean debt ceiling increase vote, he may have to play no-compromiser tough guy for a spell on the government shutdown matter (which comes first in sequence).

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    4. The beautiful thing is, we're already there.

      The question is, what's the over/under on the nihilism caucus shutting down the government just for the heck of it?

      I've been out of the Senate for a bit, but could the fringier wing generate a series of short-lived, bloody-eyed wildcat shutdowns?

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    5. I would say that Boehner can't let a CR or appropriations that have passed the Senate come to the House floor, because then they would pass with votes from Dems and a rump of Republicans in safe seats. The rest of the GOP caucus would then have Boehner's head. Also, the caucus has already made clear that it doesn't want to pass its own bills and then send these to a House-Senate conference through "regular order," because they assume that this would be tantamount to passing the Senate's bills in some form. So it could pass its own bills and then refuse to appoint conferees or something. I don't know, Boehner's going to be under enormous pressure; whichever side he's not taking is going to hit him very hard. He could try for some showy vote on something meant to appease the right in hopes that if his caucus got to take that vote, and also got a few face-saving concessions on the appropriation bills, then enough members would feel inoculated against primary challenges to go ahead and pass the appropriations. But I don't know what that appeasement measure would be.

      And then there's the further complication of the debt ceiling, which neither side is going to be in mood to compromise over again, and which is another vote easily spun as a simple yes/no on whether to destroy America or not. I frankly don't see any formula that solves all these problems, so I think it comes down to whether either Boehner or the GOP as a group just caves. Whatever happens, it's going to be really interesting.

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  6. "The rest of the GOP caucus would then have Boehner's head." Not necessarily. There may be plenty of Republicans who want to be able to vote against a CR (to avoid a Tea Party challenge) but privately still want it to pass. They would (though they can't say this openly) welcome Boehner again violating the Hastert Rule, as he has done on several occasions--including the "fiscal cliff." (He would not do that for gun control or immigration of course, but these are matters where the GOP can afford to do nothing, whereas the government, after all the posturing and bluffing, ultimately *must* be funded or the GOP is likely to lose big.)

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    1. Agreed. Boehner won't let a shutdown happen. He actually (I think) cares about the Republican party and his own legacy as speaker, and he's too deft not to understand what it would do to both.

      If a shutdown happened, it would ultimately lead to the rise of a third party. There's only so much bs that moderate Repubs are willing to take from the Tea Party before they cut their losses.

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    2. "There's only so much bs that moderate Repubs are willing to take from the Tea Party before they cut their losses."

      Hasn't this been THE great question of American politics since 2008 (or even since the later Bush years)?

      "Moderate" Republicans or business-oriented Republicans: willing to put up with much much more than many other sane rational observers might have expected.

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    3. That category of business-oriented Republicans would include plenty of corporate interests (from the major local to the national to the global level) and Wall Street traders who remain pretty blasé about actually working to put concerted pressure on the party to not openly entertain and thus encourage dangerous actions.

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    4. It's the dog that never seems to bark, to use JB's recurring terminology.

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  7. BTW, remember, whenever you read " More than 60 Republicans have signed a letter urging Speaker John Boehner to defund Obamacare" that means the great majority of House Republicans have *not* (at least yet) done so.

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  8. Can't say if there will be a shutdown, but Republicans have an opportunity to win something substantive if they ask for something Obama could possibly give them. I mean there is no chance that Obama or Senate Democrats will allow a defunding of the ACA - that won't happen. But if Boehner can convince Republicans to ask for something else - say starting at the sequester spending levels - Boehner could win. What is important, I think, is that Boehner can't start with defunding Obamacare and compromise on sequester-level spending, because compromises are totally unacceptable to a major part of his caucus.

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  9. Stan Collender predicts a prolonged showdown from September to mid-January, unless of course a shutdown occurs earlier (40% chance he says).:
    "A short-term continuing resolution negotiated very close to October 1 that lasts until the middle of November, that is, until the extraordinary measures run out, is the most likely tactic, and even that's only got about a 60 percent chance of happening.

    It may well be that Boehner needs to show his tea partiers that he is willing to shut the government for them, and the tea partiers may need to show their voters that they were willing to let it happen.

    That first short-term CR then most likely will be followed by a combination second continuing resolution and debt ceiling extension that lasts until the middle of January so that all three fiscal deadlines -- government funding, debt limit and sequester -- come together in a new fiscal cliff (#cliffgate) that roils markets and politics yet again."
    http://www.capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/stan-collender/2757/budget-bedlam-fall

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    1. A September to January shutdown? That would throw the Republican party into the wilderness for a generation. They can't be *that* stupid.

      Of course, every time I have that reaction....

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    2. No, Collender is not saying that. He's saying there would be a continuing resolution or a series of them, from Oct 1 to mid-January, extending the uncertain confrontation without blowing it up.

      OR there would be an actual government shutdown that would heighten the situation considerably and have it resolve itself more quickly (if perhaps more messily).

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