Poll: Public Would Blame GOP For Government Shutdown
With Syria behind it, Congress is beginning to move on to the other issues that it needs to deal with including, most prominently, the Federal budget for the next fiscal year which must be passed by the end of September. As I’ve noted before, there’s a certain segment of the GOP who sees this as an opportunity to make an attack on the Affordable Care Act, most notably Senator Ted Cruz, who is leading an effort that would clearly lead to a government shutdown if Democrats failed to agree to defund the law. Cruz and his supporters contend that the GOP could succeed in this strategy because public antipathy for the health care law would cause them to support rally around Republicans even in the fact of a government shutdown. Not surprisingly, a new CNN/ORC poll says something quite different:
Washington (CNN) - With the clock ticking towards two crucial deadlines, a new national poll indicates congressional Republicans would shoulder more blame than President Barack Obama for a possible government shutdown.
But according to a CNN/ORC International survey, support for the president’s health care law appears to be waning.
The poll’s Wednesday release comes less than three weeks before the current measure funding the federal government expires on September 30, setting up another budget battle between congressional Republicans and the White House. That deadline comes one day before a key element in the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, takes effect. Enrollment in the health care exchanges that form the core of the new law begins on October 1.
Some conservative lawmakers, backed by some tea party and other grassroots conservative groups, are using upcoming budget battle as leverage, vowing to oppose any measure that provides funding for the federal government from including money for the health care law. A shutdown of the government would kick in if Congress doesn’t hammer out a new spending plan by the beginning of next month, which is the start of the new federal budget year.
According to the poll, if a government shutdown lasted only a few days, 11% of Americans think that would cause a crisis and another 38% forecast major problems. But if a shutdown lasted a few weeks, the number who think the country would face a crisis rises from 11% to 31%, and the number who believe major problems would result increases a bit to 43%.
So whom would Americans blame if the government shutdown?
“Only a third would consider President Barack Obama responsible for a shutdown, with 51% pointing a finger at the GOP – up from 40% who felt that way earlier this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Republicans wouldn’t fare much better in a showdown over the debt limit either:
Seventeen percent of those polled say failure to extend the debt ceiling would cause a crisis, with another 45% forecasting major problems for the country. The poll indicates a quarter would blame the president if the debt ceiling were not raised, with 54% holding congressional Republicans responsible.
The one bright spot for the GOP appears to be that the public is continuing to sour on the Affordable Care Act:
In January 51% said they favored all or most of the provisions in the new law. Now that figure is down to 39%.
Support has dropped in virtually all demographic categories, but it has fallen the farthest among two core Democratic groups – women and Americans who make less than $50,000.
“Those are also the two groups that are most likely to pay attention to health insurance issues, and possibly the ones most likely to be affected by any changes,” adds Holland. “That may be particularly true for lower-income Americans who are most likely to have part-time jobs, be on Medicaid, or not currently have health insurance and thus be the first to have to navigate the new system.”
Of course, the law has not fared well in the polls for quite some time now, and the GOP has consistently failed to find a way to benefit from that when election time rolls around. Will that be the true in 2014 and 2016 as well? Only time will tell, but what’s clear right now is that Cruz and the rest of the Tea Party are leading the GOP down a political dead end with their shutdown strategy. The only way to impact the law at all is to win elections, and until the GOP does that and gets control of the Senate and the White House the idea that they can somehow magically bring an end to what has become the signature legislation of President Obama’s time in office is nothing more than a fantasy.