Thursday, October 03, 2013

Shutdown Follies

Various thoughts on the government shutdown:

The most important one is "What was the Tea Party thinking?" Did thye really think that President Obama would give up what he sees as his legacy? Yes, Obama is willing to cut deals with murderous dictators and rogue theocracies but his heart isn't in those fights. His only interest in foreign affairs was getting out of Bush's wars.

The shutdown was a disaster for the movement to repeal and replace Obamacare. It enforced the belief that, once in place it can't be removed. The headlines should have been about the breakdown of the exchanges and how few of the people who actually get through are signing up for coverage. Instead the top stories are about people hurt by the shutdown with a subtext about heartless Republicans.

What is not getting covered is that it takes two sides to have an impasse. Obama and the Democrats are refusing to negotiate, period. They need to throw the Republicans a bone for the good of the country. Instead they are too busy looking at the harm the shutdown is doing to the Republican brand and counting on that for winning the 2014 elections.

The Democrats are being ingenuous about the dispute. Obama and others emphasize that it is over just one law without acknowledging the massive scope of that one law.

I've also seen the argument that representative government requires that the Republicans accept the law. There is some truth to that. Obamacare was not a major issue in the last election and the Republicans have only managed to take one house of Congress. The flip side to that is that Obamacare was passed with the slimmest of margins, only by using legislative tricks and opinion polls showed that it never had a majority behind it.

The worst thing about the showdown is that Obamacare is not ready but it was implemented anyway. If not for Obama's reluctance to deal with the enemy (Republicans) it would have been delayed for at least a year.

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