House GOP should prepare for a long seige
If you were to get all your news from mainstream media, there would be no doubt in your mind who was at fault in the government shutdown mess.
Most in the media - and, not coincidentally, the president - sound more like far left wing bloggers than journalists or the president of the United States. Referring to Republicans as "hostage takers," "terrorists," "suicide bombers" - that's the kind of stuff you see on Kos or some other lefty blog.
The only reason it matters is that voters are already buying into the narrative set by Democrats; Tea Party "extremists" have hijacked the GOP and are holding a gun to the head of the American people by insisting that Obamacare be modified or defunded. The White House says they won't negotiate and Harry Reid is following suit in the Senate.
But Obama has already altered Obamacare 19 times in implementing it. This, without consent of Congress. Why should the president be the only one who gets to alter a bad law? Why should individual Americans not get the same break on being forced into Obamacare that companies and unions got? And most decisively, if Obamacare is such a great idea, why shouldn't Congress, the president, their staffs, and political appointees line up with the rest of us to enjoy all the wonderful benefits Obamacare has to offer?
(While we're at it, we should insure that Congress be subject to all the other laws they have exempted themselves from.)
There is an argument to be made that a continuiing resolution to fund the government, and a debt ceiling vote should not be the vehicles for altering Obamcare. But given Senate Democrat's refusal to even talk about amending Obamacare - despite monumental problems that will severely impact the economy and the quality of life of millions of Americans - the GOP was left with little choice but to make a last stand against the law here and now.
Republicans have called for a House-Senate conference to discuss a compromise - an unrealistic proposal given that the right flank of the GOP will only vote for delay or defunding Obamacare and Senate Democrats will never agree to either idea. So it appears that stalemate will rule for the foreeseable future.
Unfortunately, the foreseeable future is extremely limited. The Democrats can stand pat for the moment, serene in the knowledge that the GOP is under growing pressure to cave. It should be kept in mind that only 16 Republicans have to change their vote in the House to pass a "clean" CR that President Obama could sign. Of course, the Speaker would have to allow it to come to the floor for a vote so unless Boehner himself caves in to the pressure, it won't matter how many Republicans want to bolt.
There is a danger that the shutdown will continue until it's time to vote for a debt limit increase. While we've had government shut downs before we've never failed to raise the debt limit. The unknowns about what would happen if both scenarios were taking place would almost certainly be enough to tank the market, and possibily initiate a banking crisis. It might be enough to send the economy deeper into recession. I would suspect that the pressure on Republicans will reach its zenith at that point - just two weeks or so away - and everything will be resolved.
How it plays out is anyone's guess but you have to wonder if the GOP could maintain its position if the economy begins to go south and the American people look for a scapegoat. Unless a way can be found to put similar political pressure on Obama and the Democrats, the GOP will melt like a stick of butter at a summer picnic and possibly lose the House in 2014.