The GOP has not been able to repeal, defund, or delay Obamacare despite their better efforts. Instead? They have escorted Washington to its “shutdown” status. Now, only about 17% is actually shut down, but we think the bigger picture has been following a two-step strategy:
1. Shutdown the Government.
2. Offer bills appropriating funds agency by agency, cause by cause.
Why pursue such a strategy?
By proactively presenting individual appropriation bills it casts them in a positive light. For maybe the first time ever, Republicans are the ones working diligently to put those unfortunate furloughed government employees back to work.
It’s hard to be portrayed as the party of “no” when you are continually submitting legislation with the intent of funding the federal government.
All of the sudden Democrats become the obstructionists.
But what’s the point? Well, if they had been successful, we would suddenly have a government that is fully operational through smaller budget proposals with one exception: Obamacare. It would lack the funding necessary to be fully implemented.
In summary, the GOP is essentially using this “shutdown” to build a ground up government free of Obamacare. A cafeteria government as opposed to family style offerings.
Why? Because without permission to accumulate more debt, isn’t it more likely that more than 17% of the government would be downsizing?
If the sequester did anything it was set the tone for smaller government. It had virtually no effect on the economy and went nearly unnoticed. The shutdown hasn’t played out as the Democrats have expected, and people are beginning to see that a “shutdown” isn’t a shutdown.
The most interesting revelation from this bout of political posturing is the role social media has played. The Clinton shutdown was portrayed as Armageddon in the mainstream media. Outside the occasional statement pertaining to the arrival of social security checks, major media outlets did little to frame the shutdown as anything but an absolute catastrophe. Social media and the rise of alternative media outlets have assumed the role of informing the citizenry. People are beginning to realize how little of an effect the shutdown has had on government operations.
What we would like to know is did the GOP plan this? Or are they a blind squirrel finding an acorn?
We’ll probably never know, but either way it would be the first time in a long time the GOP has outmaneuvered the Media-Democrat complex.
So how might it play out?
Joe’s Prediction: Moving into the debt ceiling debate, I believe Democrats will panic (though I don’t know whether it will show in public or in private only). It’s likely they’ll eventually buy into the Republican strategy and start making compromises just so the debt ceiling can be lifted yet again. And, because the GOP knows that they’re being sneaky and have a grander plan in the works, they’ll play along.
Greg’s Prediction: With the rapidly approaching debt ceiling, I believe both sides will panic. Moderate house GOP members will break rank and take to the Sunday shows to bash Speaker Boehner. The Democrats would have gleefully appeared on those same shows to scream about how Ted Cruz and the GOP Anarchist Caucus want kids with cancer to die while their parents face bankruptcy.
Lucky for the Anarchist Caucus, Harry Reid already beat them to the punch by choosing furloughed Nellis Air Force Base workers over kids with cancer.
I do not believe the House GOP will cave and allow a vote on a clean resolution. I think a grand bargain encompassing entitlement and tax reform is more likely than a clean resolution. However, both are probably just as unlikely given the time constraint.
That leaves 4 possible outcomes:
1) Congress refuses to lift the debt ceiling and the US government enters default. The result would be a panicked attempt at debt prioritization by the Treasury, given the government’s track record of “bureaucratic skill” (oxymoron?), default would be the end result. After much economic chaos and dismay the President capitulates to the GOP and agrees to defund his signature bill as long as the debt ceiling is given a sizable retroactive raise. (5% likely)
2) President Obama caves and agrees to pass a continuing resolution that defunds his baby. This would be a terrible precedent to set for a President going forward. Lifting the debt ceiling, given our perpetual deficits, is going to be an enormous pain for all future Presidents. If President Obama caves, expect this crisis style of politics to be the norm going forward. The President caving on the debt ceiling would be the equivalent of former President George W. Bush converting to Islam with Osama Bin Laden as his spiritual adviser. (1% likely)
3) Congress refuses to lift the debt ceiling and President Obama invokes the 14th amendment which states:
“Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”
This is dangerous because one of the greatest checks on our system of checks and balances is the placement of the purse strings with Congress. Right now it might sound appealing to the left, but they won’t always be in power. Trust me, the GOP is vindictive and they will hammer the left with this if ever given the chance. (15% likely)
4) A compromise is reached that delays the implementation and funding of Obamacare for two additional years. In exchange the GOP agrees to either a substantial increase in the debt ceiling or its complete removal (Let’s face it, Republicans only love the debt ceiling when it can be used to their benefit). This gives Republicans a win with their base and lets the President save face.
He will do an interview with someone on one of the major networks and apologize to the millions of Americans waiting to receive health insurance. His excuse? The technology isn’t ready because it’s just too darn popular. He’ll let them know he hasn’t forgotten about them, and even though they’re in pain, he can’t allow someone to be denied coverage over a technical glitch. If someone were to die because some computer programmer wrote sloppy code he wouldn’t be able to live with himself. He just cares too much to allow that to happen.
The GOP is able to stir their base up for 2014 and 2016 with the sole purpose of finally putting Obamacare in its grave. (79% likely)
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