Monday, September 30, 2013

Shutdown Notes

Bullet-point style, looking ahead...

* The government shuts down if Congress doesn't act today. There is still, however, plenty of time if everyone cooperates to do a short-term extension, whether it's a one-day, one-week, or any other length.

* The House can do that easily if Republicans want it. In the Senate, it could be blocked by one Senate...however, it would make little sense for any Senator to do so (which doesn't mean that Cruz or Lee won't, but I don't think they would).

* If Republicans (or, for that matter, Democrats, although the latter seems extremely unlikely to me) back down at the last harm done. Everyone bluffs; if this is all a bluff, then a lot of the claims about GOP norm-defying in this case are massively overblown.

* Along with that: a very short term shutdown, really anything up to a week, isn't all that big a deal. Most past shutdowns were like that; if we get one of those, it's really more hype than anything else. Yes, it costs some money, and inconveniences some people, but it'll be forgotten rapidly.

* However: the same dynamics that get us to shutdown are fairly likely to produce a longer one.

* Yes, House Republicans will begin to hear complaints about the shutdown from the start. But at least for a while, those complaints will surely be outnumbered by partisans urging them to fight on.

* That's particularly true if Republicans really are testing the theory that a shutdown will eventually produce a major public opinion swing in their favor, with people joining them in saying that Democrats should just give up ACA in order to get the government opening. I think that's a crazy theory, but if they believe it, then the next logical step would be to wait and see whether it works.

* Basically, if Boehner is deliberately moving to a shutdown in order to teach his conference a lesson (and there are hints of that in the reporting), he's making a bad move.

* On the other hand, if there's a plan to retreat within a day or two that doesn't rely on Republicans suddenly coming to their senses...that seems like a silly plan to me, but again, a very short shutdown is no big deal.

* I suppose I can imagine at least one way it might make some sense: if many Republicans really believe that Obama (and Senate Democrats) are bluffing and would never allow a shutdown over Obamacare.

* But otherwise, if Boehner thinks (or if mainstream conservatives think) he can get a controlled one or two day shutdown, he's playing with fire. There's going be a lot of pressure to "fight this through to the end," and only moderate, if building, pressure to end it quickly.

* All of which is why I've always thought that Boehner's best move was to avoid a shutdown, and why I still think there's a fair chance he'll avoid it.


  1. Wouldn't a government shutdown buy some time under the debt ceiling? All of the money they're not spending because the government is shut down is money they don't have to borrow, after all.

    1. If it weren't for the Sequester, we already would have had to face the debt limit before now, sometime earlier this year. Off the top of my head, it was maybe spring or early summer that I remember folks talking about before the Sequester dropped. A shutdown probably would delay the debt limit deadline, but probably not for too long.

      However, I think JB is right that time isn't really a factor. If we reached the deadline but had a conservative party that was actually interested in serious negotiations, they could pass little micro-bills. CRs and Debt Limit increases which cover a week's worth of spending while negotiations finalise. On the other hand, when Republicans are unwilling to negotiate period, the deadline kind of becomes a moot point. What matters is the will to avoid a shutdown or default, rather than the time required to work out compromises. Republicans have not yet shown that will.

    2. Actually, government shutdowns generally end up costing money, not saving it.

      The sequester surely contributed something to the delay in reaching the debt limit, but economic growth--even if it's still inadequate--is probably a bigger factor.

    3. I'd expect the long-run cost to do that with a shutdown. How does it work out day-by-day?

      Anyhow, Zeke Miller at Swampland/Time (via Dish) had an answer on this:

    4. Maybe by a day, but not much more.

      It isn't a shutdown. It is not spening outside the budget limits.

      Only applies to 400K employees or so. The expensive ones (military! Intelligence!) don't get paid.

      Plus it isn't as if you get paid everyday. Payday is Today, next one is two weeks. You may or may not get your shutdown period compensated, but you will get a paycheck.

      And a day later there isn't any cash left. Unless they print some.

  2. When are filing deadlines for key House GOP members? The shutdown only needs to last until we reach those dates.

    1. Deadlines for announcing primary challenges, I mean.

    2. Earliest is IIRC in December, maybe November, but the bulk of them are later, some much later.

  3. I don't know if the latest polls are any better in terms of accuracy, but the WAPost poll shows GOP getting hammered if there's a shutdown, and the Morning Consult Tracking Poll (?) suggests public support for repealing ACA is 7%. Most of what I'm seeing today is really bad for Republicans. I don't know when or if this will affect the congressional GOPers but the pressure seems pretty unequivocal outside the right wing noise machine.

  4. I am not really a political person I've always tried to vote for the person that I thought would do best for our country I really never personalize it to my knees just what my thought was best for the country

    she need the Democrats and Republicans Tea Party and independence
    also I won't even say college students because you action appears younger than that this is not a debate that you get a score on, I'll give you both a score C you are really dealing with American lives
    all of you should get all your big egos out of the way do the right thing
    maybe if you ask your creative to help you do the right thing he will help you this is not about you this is keeping America America In all of your hearts and souls Republicans, Democrat, independent and Tea Party

  5. So Boehner is going to play with fire and actually shut the government down. I didn't think he'd do that, but he left himself very little wiggle room with all his pronouncements today. I guess now we find out if you're right and its just a 1 or 2 day thing, or if pressure builds for the Republicans to maintain it. I hope its the former, but truly fear it will be the latter.


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