There (Probably) Won’t Be A Government Shutdown

If recent history is any guide, there won't really be a government shutdown next week. But, the zealotry of the "defund Obamacare" caucus could change everything.

Capitol Buidling Dayime2

As we head into the last week of September, we’re once again at the point where things are looking grim and the prospects of a deal in Washington seems to be close to zero. As Philip Klein reminds us, though, we’ve been here before and the script is a familiar one:

The nation now has more than two and a half years of experience with divided government during the Obama presidency. And each time there has been a major crisis, it’s followed a familiar pattern.

The sides are far apart. It looks like the crisis may hit. Then, at the last minute, there’s some sort of deal that’s able to pass the Senate that Speaker John Boehner is able to get through the House of Representatives with a lot of help from Democrats.

Obviously, right now, it’s hard to see a path to an agreement. But things aren’t looking any more grim now than they were at this time leading up to the first government shutdown battle in early 2011, or the debt limit fight that summer, or the fiscal cliff showdown late last year.

Of course, as Klein notes, this could be the time that everything changes. It’s certainly possible, but it really doesn’t seem likely. The rhetoric of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the Senate and the Tea Party crowd in the House, which at most amounts to about 50 Republicans, aside, the fact of the matter is that the leadership and the Committee chairs know that a deal has to be reached, and they’re the ones who will be negotiating that deal. Yes, it’s true that Boehner and Company threw a bone to the Tea Party last week when they voted on a Continuing Resolution that defunded Obamacare, but they did so knowing that the CR has absolutely no chance of passing in the Senate. Once that actually happens, the real negotiations will begin. While I tend to doubt that the GOP will be able to get a deal that includes everything I outlined yesterday, the most likely outcome at that point is that some kind of deal will be made, and we’ll continue to limp along as we have for the past several years with Continuing Resolutions rather than actual budgets determining how the government spends its money.

There is, of course, another possibility. We could actually end up with a shutdown, and the reason for that may end up being the fact that those leading the “defund” movement actually seem to think a shutdown would be helpful for them:

Believe it, or not, some conservatives leading this fight believe that a government shutdown is actually a necessary ingredient for ultimate political victory. They have convinced themselves that Obama will be blamed for a government shutdown — and when things get bad enough — he will finally cave.

As National Review’s Robert Costa reported, “There is a widespread, [Ted] Cruz-inspired consensus among many conservatives that [Obama] will cave, if only pushed by grassroots.”

Based on past experience, it seems rather clear that Cruz and others are misjudging Obama completely and that there’s absolutely no chance that the President is going cave on the signature piece of legislation from his first term. If that happens, and if the GOP leadership in the House and Senate is unable to cobble together enough support for a deal that excludes the support of Cruz and his supporters, then we very well could be headed for a shutdown by this time next week.

 

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    As National Review’s Robert Costa reported, “There is a widespread, [Ted] Cruz-inspired consensus among many conservatives that [Obama] will cave, if only pushed by grassroots.”

    The last time Obama caved in we got sequestration, so it is not unreasonable for guys like Ted Cruz to believe that they might be able to get Obama to give more ground on ACA.

    There are times when I wish that Obama was as street fighting tough as Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton, however it’s not his nature, he’s moderate and cool in temperament.

    Right now I’d say the odds are 5 to 1 against the likelihood of a shutdown, conversely they’re 5 to 1 in favor of a “deal” that will probably be a lot lower in quality than the brain dead sequestration deal.

  2. merl says:

    I kind of expect him to cave too. He has a pattern of always caving, sometimes preemptively.

  3. PJ says:

    A lot of GOP Representatives are right now wondering what will hurt their re-election plans more; government shutdown and default or a primary challenge…

  4. Todd says:

    I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but that’s not good.

    If the Tea Party manages to extort any consessions out of the Senate and White House over the CR, they’ll be more (not less) likely to think they can do the same thing with the Debt Ceiling. Much better to just call their bluff now before the pot (and potential losses) gets too much bigger.

  5. john personna says:

    From the Wall Street Journal on this topic:

    The magic of drawing partisan districts explains how Republicans could have lost the popular vote for the House in 2012 by more than a million votes nationally, yet kept control of the House by 33 seats.

    Drives home how gerrymandering isn’t just bad, it has actually derailed our democracy.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “The last time Obama Boehner caved in we got sequestration,” is at least as accurate. Really, in any kind of compromise, nobody gets everything they want and if you listen to the Rush and Hannity etc crowd, Obama rolled them like a Tootsie Roll. They think they got taken to the cleaners.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  7. Rob in CT says:

    This is quality, right here: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2013/09/reality-politics.html#more

    Money quote:

    Republicans in the House have now voted to defund Obamacare 42 times. To lot of people, this looks like the definition of insanity, but I’m arguing otherwise.

    GOP Congressmen aren’t trying to pass laws and failing, they are trying to perform reactionary conservatism and succeeding. The repeated votes are no more nonsensical than repeat performances of a concert, because people keep paying them to do it. It’s a perfectly rational, market-driven business decision.

    Jamelle Bouie and many other liberals think these Congressmen and the conservative activists pressuring them are “shameless grifters” raising money from “gullible customers”, but I don’t think that’s true. They are performers raising money from an audience, but that audience is also buying a sense of participation.

  8. john personna says:

    At this point, is there anything we should pay “rational attention” to?

    We know the gerrymandering and money feedback loop feed the performance, but we also know it has no hope of succeeding. Even if the performance extends to a show of “shutdown” it will be just that, a show.

    I say ignore it all.

  9. Rob in CT says:

    Perhaps so, John. WE – those of us who follow politics normally – should probably ignore it. Other folks – those who typically ignore politics – would probably be better served to pay some attention to it.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rob in CT: My wife doesn’t have to because I do enough of it for the both of us. 🙁

  11. john personna says:

    The other thread (Poll: Majority Opposes GOP Government Shutdown Plan) says that people have things figured out. It’s just the gerrymandered districts making a stink.

    That’s the way it’s going to be until gerrymandering is killed.

    It will be. At some point people will figure out that open source algorithmic districting can be blind to party registration, and openly verified as such.

  12. Jeremy R says:

    @al-Ameda:

    There are times when I wish that Obama was as street fighting tough as Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton, however it’s not his nature, he’s moderate and cool in temperament.

    The difference between the “third-way” triangulation deals on deregulation, trade, gutting of welfare, DaDT, etc of the Clinton years, and Obama-era compromises, is that Clinton-land sold their outcomes as positive (“the era of big government is over”), desired and politically savvy, where Obama keeps pushing for his preferred policies, even as he rhetorically bashes the punts, filibusters, intentional sabotage of multiple agencies by obstructing appointments, etc. that have resulted from a GOP unmoored from prior governing practices and precedents, breaching all sorts of norms to a degree that would have previously been unthinkable.

  13. Rob in CT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    LOL, me too!

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    That’s the way it’s going to be until gerrymandering is killed.

    It will be. At some point people will figure out that open source algorithmic districting can be blind to party registration, and openly verified as such.

    I despair of ever seeing that result. The people might figure it out, but that is not where the problem is. The problem is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have figured it out too, and they like gerrymandering. Just depends which state you are in as to which party likes it more.

    This is one case where “Both sides do it.” really applies.

  15. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I guess having cleaned our house:

    Surprisingly absent from the guilty list is California, where 62 percent of the two-party vote went to Democrats and the average mock delegation of 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans exactly matched the newly elected delegation. Notably, California voters took redistricting out of legislators’ hands by creating the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

    We can call on others.

  16. Matt Bernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The problem is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have figured it out too, and they like gerrymandering. Just depends which state you are in as to which party likes it more.

    This is one case where “Both sides do it.” really applies.

    This. It’s a lot like the fillibuster. Everyone complains about it, but in the end they prefer the current system.

    Generally speaking both parties typically reject attempts to move towards more neutral forms of drawing district lines.

  17. john personna says:

    From that article:

    Politicians, especially Republicans facing demographic and ideological changes in the electorate, use redistricting to cling to power. It’s up to us to take control of the process, slay the gerrymander, and put the people back in charge of what is, after all, our House.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna: John, you are preaching to the choir. If there was something I could do to remove politics from redistricting, I would do it. Times 3. Unfortunately, redistricting lies at the heart of all politics. Remember, war is just politics by other means, by which I mean, I am not so sure that there is not a subset of Dem’s or GOP’s that would not resort to arms to further their aims.

    And sometimes? I feel like I am one of them.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    Surprisingly absent from the guilty list is California,

    I guess California Democrats are not near as competent (or greedy) as Texas Republicans. 😉

    Really John, I am on your side, I just don’t see the political parties being on our side. They both want to rig the system in their favor. Who wouldn’t????***

    *** (besides you and me that is)

  20. Woody says:

    I can certainly imagine a government shutdown, just as I can a debt default.

    Once the GOP began placing a muzzle at the Federal Government’s economic temple – even as only a negotiating ploy – the possibility of ruin increased dramatically. That this is “normal” must have Eisenhower rolling on his grave.

    Throw in the Democrats’ Jello-like spine and the rightwing Wurlitzer and the odds have increased further.

    No tradition, no empathy, no fair play – only a fierce commitment to an apocalyptic inferno. Truly, a theopolitical cult.

  21. Tyrell says:

    Now we hear that members of Congress, including Democrats, are wanting waivers and trying to figure out ways of getting out of the so called “Affordable Healthcare” Act. Figures. They never want the same rules and stuff the average working people, the ones paying their salaries, have to live b and put up with; junk that they voted for. See the interview with James Freeman, WSJ. Congress should not have all of these exemptions and special treatment: immunities, franking, expenses, etc.
    “You done went and dood it again!!”

  22. David M says:

    @Tyrell:

    That claim isn’t much use without a link, especially given the fact that Congress is basically the only employer in the country using the exchanges, something the GOP has chosen not to understand. There has been a non-stop stream of misinformation on this specific subject coming from the GOP for quite a while.

  23. jo6pac says:

    This is a no brainer the great 0 blames everything the repug but the again they vote for his not so grand bargain as do demodogs and they all win except us on Main Street.

  24. Argon says:

    I think the best thing that comes out of this is Democrats retaining control of the Senate after 2014.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, supposedly we’re not having a filibuster on whatever landed in the Senate’s lap. Can you explain for us Congress neophytes what is going on here and what happens next?

    I mean, I studied the legislative process in my Legislative Interpretation class in law school, but all the procedural stuff is getting far too insider-basebally for me.

    The only thing I can dimly grasp from all of this is that the Democratic party is sitting there with its legs up on the divan, drinking single malt scotch, and grinning from ear to ear while the Republican Party manages to stuff its genitals into a cactus and shoot off both feet, all at the same time.

  26. Scott F. says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’ll have a go at an explanation.

    The only thing that Cruz, Lee and company can filibuster is the CR bill sent fom the House. Since the House version includes the language to defund the ACA, they’d be filibustering the outcome they say they want. Despite the mixed message this action will send, Cruz et al are saying today that they’ll filibuster anyway. The only reason they’d even consider this awkward approach is due to the fact that once a cloture vote passes ending debate, all remaining votes only need 51 votes to succeed – the Democrats can strip the defund ACA provisions and pass the remaining elements of the Continuing Resolution to fund the government with no need for a even a single Republican vote. The Senate part of the battle is lost as far as the Tea Party is concerned.

    Then the ball is back in the House’s court.

  27. Jeremy R says:

    @Tyrell:

    Now we hear that members of Congress, including Democrats, are wanting waivers and trying to figure out ways of getting out of the so called “Affordable Healthcare” Act. Figures.

    Eh? Congress and their staff have excellent employer subsidized health care. As a clever political stunt Chuck Grassley inserted an amendment into the ACA that would require officials to start getting their insurance on the new Exchanges. Only after the bill was passed did some folks notice that Grassley’s amendment was ambiguous as to whether their Exchange insurance would still get their previous subsidies. Any attempt to fix that oversight legislatively has been demagogued to death by the Right, which led to representatives and their aides looking at an arbitrary slashing of their compensation.

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    Now we hear that members of Congress, including Democrats, are wanting waivers and trying to figure out ways of getting out of the so called “Affordable Healthcare” Act.

    One hears many things in life, the trick is being able to distinguish fact from nonsense.

  29. Barry says:

    @Matt Bernius: “This. It’s a lot like the fillibuster. Everyone complains about it, but in the end they prefer the current system.”

    Wrong. The filibuster rate skyrocketed under the past few Congresses, when the GOP lost control.

  30. Tillman says:

    @Barry: And you’ll note the Democrats, despite ample opportunities, haven’t changed the rules to eliminate it.