Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Question for Liberals

I guess I'll go with a version of the same questions I posed to conservatives. How do you see the budget stalemate playing out over the next couple of months? Are you rooting for a shutdown?


  1. I see at least one shutdown, possibly more. (Probably one in a couple of weeks when the CR expires, and then possibly another at the beginning of FY 2012 in October.) My guess would be they last a couple of weeks, although that's really just a guess. I think the key variable is how long it takes for House Republicans to get the crazy out of their system, and that just doesn't seem very predictable.

    I'm definitely not rooting for a shutdown. I think its probable that Democrats would come out on top politically - but I'm concerned about the impact on the economy. And also, if the Democrats come out worse politically (seems unlikely, but not impossible), and largely end up caving, the substantive policy outcome could be terrible.

  2. I look forward to one of the shoutdowns yielding Speaker Cantor.

    But GW's concerns are mine, and I find the House GOP leadership infuriating in its mixture of obscurantism and stupid.

  3. I can't really answer this, because the shutdown is the game (or part of it), not the outcome. Obviously there are certain outcomes I'd prefer to see, just as I'd like to see the team I'm backing win the Superbowl. But asking whether I'm "rooting for a shutdown" is like asking whether I'm "rooting for the Superbowl" or "rooting for an onside kick."

  4. I'm not rooting for a shutdown because lots of people across the country will get hurt---mostly in small ways, but some in large ways.

    That said, it's hard for me to envision it playing out well for Republicans given the institutional advantages the president has, and given the body of knowledge regarding the politics of shutdowns acquired during the Clinton-Gingrich showdowns in the 1990s.

    As for how it plays out, I think it's likely that the longer it plays out, the worse it goes for Republicans. In some ways it could be a reverse of the health care fight in the last Congress. That fight hurt the Democrats because many citizens just want their elected representatives in Washington to "get to work and get their jobs done".

    With the budget and any government shutdown(s), it will be a Republican House v. a Democratic Senate, with the President remaining above the fray, and the Republicans forcing a shutdown because they're unwilling to compromise.

    What am I missing here?

  5. Most Democrats who root for a shutdown are, I suspect, people who don't know anyone who works for the federal government.

    The shutdown of '95 was a significant event in my political maturation. I was 18, just starting college, and my father was (and still is) a federal employee. So was our next-door-neighbor, a single black woman with a teenage son. The whole thing was an ordeal, and it came after a year of challenges in our family, one of my brothers having just passed away (which made me have to drop my first college course because I missed too many classes while sitting shiva) and my mother recovering from gall-bladder surgery.

    It was the first time I got a real glimpse of the impact that politics could have on everyday lives. It felt like the men in Washington were playing games and using us as the bait. And when I heard that one of Gingrich's reasons for the shutdown was that he felt personally snubbed by Clinton on the plane to Rabin's funeral, well, you should have an easy time understanding why Gingrich was the first political figure I ever deeply loathed.

  6. Yeah, that Gingrich comment points up the dangers in a shutdown. I think what Gingrich meant to say was that here were the president, the House speaker, and the Senate majority leader all stuck together anyway on the same plane for two long flights, and the fact that Clinton didn't take the opportunity to talk business showed that he wasn't serious about the budget impasse, wasn't doing his best to avoid a shutdown and perhaps was even trying to bring one on. If he had just said that, maybe the onus shifts to Clinton a little bit, as Gingrich obviously intended.

    But, being Gingrich, he couldn't just say that. He had to go on and talk about a "snub" and about being forced to use the back stairs, and he actually said that all this was "why" Congress passed a continuing resolution unacceptable to Clinton. The remark in full not only put Gingrich's ego at the center of the debate, but could easily be represented in a vivid image (Gingrich as "Cry Baby"). It deservedly went straight into the Political Gaffe Hall of Fame.

    The danger, of course, is that in the course of a shutdown, either side might be the one to say something clumsy or idiotic. Republicans, though, would still be the more likely to, for two reasons: (1) They're crazy, which means they don't know how they come off sounding, and (2) Their leaders' comments aren't as carefully vetted as those of the president, who would at least have a chance of distancing himself from anything one of his aides accidentally blurted out on "Meet the Press."

  7. I'd like the President to hammer away at this

    1. It is lunacy to spend lots of time on a budget that covers at most half a fiscal year; and
    2. Just like the Repub failure to hold idea-solicitation hearings and to develop legislation for job creation programs, the entire budget "cutting" charade shows how empty the Repub agenda is.

    I think the Repubs will blink and do a short term CR, which will only make me happy b/c I fully expect the Democrats to stuff 'em on all but the most obvious spending cuts.

    Beyond the first short term CR, I expect a shutdown.

  8. # 1.....NEWT was LOOKING for an excuse:

    Mr. McCurry said that, during the flight, Mr. Clinton walked back to the Republican leaders to thank them for joining the delegation to Israel. Budget negotiating, Mr. McCurry said, was not the purpose of the trip.

    "The president of the United States lost a friend," Mr. McCurry said. "And I don't think he much felt like talking about budget politics with speaker Gingrich, with all due respect."

    Mr. McCurry said the speaker was treated with "so much courtesy" on the trip that he was permitted to bring his wife, Marianne, on Air Force One. That privilege was not extended to anyone else in the delegation, including Mr. Bush and Mr. Carter.

    Other Democrats, in the heat of the budget stalemate yesterday, seized on the speaker's remarks. South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, the Senate minority leader who was also on the trip, said Mr. Gingrich "must have been sleepwalking that night" because the president had spoken with the congressional leaders several times.

    Noting Mrs. Gingrich's presence on the plane, Mr. Daschle said: "For a person who was given extra privileges, extra opportunities to experience this extraordinary piece of history, I'm amazed that he would be the biggest whiner."

    # 2.....NEWT knew he was being a jerk:

    In remarks that reveal the personal tenor of the budget battle, House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested yesterday that he and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole toughened the spending bill that has led to the partial government shutdown because they felt President Clinton snubbed them on a recent plane ride.
    At a breakfast session with reporters, Mr. Gingrich said he was insulted and appalled that, on the long trip aboard Air Force One this month to and from the funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the president failed to invite the Republican leaders to the front of the plane to discuss the budget, and then made them exit at the rear of the plane.
    "I think that's part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher continuing resolution," Mr. Gingrich said.
    "This is petty, and I'm going to say up front it's petty, and Tony will probably say that I shouldn't say it, but I think it's human," the speaker added, referring to Tony Blankley, his spokesman.
    Mr. Gingrich's remarks suggest that the shabby treatment he perceived helped shape the "continuing resolution," the temporary spending bill that Mr. Clinton vetoed Monday. The bill is at the heart of the budget impasse that has closed parts of the government and furloughed 800,000 federal workers this week.
    Mr. Gingrich said he thought "a couple of hours of dialogue" among the three leaders on the plane might have averted the stalemate that has led to the partial government shutdown.
    As he has done repeatedly since returning from the Nov. 6 Rabin funeral, Mr. Gingrich railed against Mr. Clinton's treatment of him and Mr. Dole during their 25 hours in flight -- specifically the president's decision not to discuss the federal budget with them.

    November 16, 1995
    By Susan Baer, SUN NATIONAL STAFF Staff writer Karen Hosler contributed to this article.

  9. It seems like the Republican leadership might be losing control of their caucus. I think those GOP leaders have a fairly good idea of what kind of spending cuts would be acceptable to them, and Obama has a fairly good idea of his acceptable cuts. But the freshman Republicans seem to be putting real, serious pressure on the leadership to cut more than the leaders want.

    If the media picks up on that narrative, and blames the "tea party" hard-liners and a "weak" Boehner for a showdown/shutdown, I think that the GOP could end up looking like a broken, ineffective political machine.

    In addition, the GOP has added elements like the Planned Parenthood shutdown to the mix. Bringing the culture war into the mix is probably a bad idea.

    Meanwhile, the union protests may still be stewing in the background...

    I'm not rooting for a government showdown at all. I'd prefer for the GOP to get itself in order and work with Obama.

  10. I'm not for a shut down since its going to make my job hard since my job requires me to interact with the federal government on a daily basis. I don't think the Republican leadership wants a shut down because I believe they are aware it can go very badly for them. At the same time, their base is itching for it and they want one very badly, mainly because they are stupid.

  11. Since the Republican story on their loss in the Gingrich shutdown was that they just didn't grind it out for long enough, I see this one lasting for a long time and potentially causing major economic dislocation.

    With any luck, that will destroy the Tea Party and damage the Republican brand for decades. But I never count against the Democrats' ability to salvage defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Our choice, it seems, is between evil-and-crazy vs. feckless-and-stupid.

  12. >Since the Republican story on their loss in the Gingrich shutdown was that they just didn't grind it out for long enough, I see this one lasting for a long time and potentially causing major economic dislocation.

    But Boehner is a lot more rational than Gingrich, whose self-destructive streak could have filled the Grand Canyon. I am certain Boehner doesn't want a shutdown, and if he feels forced into it, he'll at least try to minimize it.


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