Despite what the phony hand-wringing moralizers among us say about how the government shutdown hurts everybody and there are real human consequences and veterans and cancer patients and little children yadda yadda and “there are no winners” well that’s bullshit.
At the end of the day, like it or not, one side will win and another side will lose. That’s the way politics works. That’s the very nature of things. And since any sort of mutually agreeable bargain or compromise is so far outside the realm of actual possibility at this point either the Republicans or the Democrats will win the shutdown.
Spoiler alert: the Democrats will win the shutdown. The Democrats are winning the shutdown, and their position gets stronger every day. They started the shutdown in the better position, having passed a clean CR in the senate thereby putting themselves in a position to say no to anything else. And almost always in any negotiation the party with the power to level a flat-out no has all the leverage.
The GOP has tried to be slick throughout the shutdown but has failed miserably. Sending members of congress to the WWII memorial and offering up piecemeal bills to fund whatever pops up on the news that day has been a shameful strategy, and the Democrats in the senate have been right to let those bills languish, using the power of the no for all but one bill which promises to pay furloughed federal workers after the shutdown ends.
You may have heard that the president is concerned about setting a precedent of allowing the GOP to threaten shutdowns going forward in order to press for multitudes of gains unrelated to the budget. That is true and we commend the president for it. Two years ago when the country came to the brink of a shutdown we watched John Boehner stand up in front of the country after the 11th hour and say ‘we got 98% of everything we wanted’ which ultimately led to sequestration funding. That is unacceptable to us and should be unacceptable to every Democrat and every American. The clean CR is not a Democrat bill. Democrats hate it. It is a large compromise that we as a party have already made.
The house Tea Party caucus and Senator Ted Cruz started the shutdown, but at this point it is John Boehner’s shutdown and his alone. He is the only one with the power to bring the clean CR bill to the floor, and he is the one refusing to do it. As has been pointed out by several news outlets, there are the votes to pass it in the house at any time. And this is not based on speculation but on on-the-record statements that individual members of congress have made.
Now answer this: if there are more than the 217 necessary votes to pass a clean CR, why would Harry Reid or Barack Obama negotiate? They’ve already won.
Which means that the GOP, and particularly John Boehner have lost. Unfortunately the Tea Party members represent districts whose constituents are so far disconnected from reality that most of them won’t feel much blowback from all this. For John Boehner though, wrangling to keep his speakership may be precisely the thing that loses him his speakership. He might have been able to hang on after a day or two of shutdown but the longer this goes on the bigger the perceived loss for the GOP, and the more fractious their party becomes. Ultimately Newt Gingrich didn’t survive his shutdown, and we don’t see any way that Boehner does either. Bet your bottom dollar he weeps openly when he hands over the gavel after the 2014 mid-terms.
If Boehner wants a friend in Washington perhaps he should get a dog. If you want a friend to chat with about Washington you should come out to tonight’s meeting of the Baltimore chapter of Drinking Liberally. It gets underway at 8 pm at Dougherty’s. As always, meetings are free and open to liberals and Progressives of all descriptions.