What will it take to end the shutdown? There isn’t much that can be compromised in this situation, given that we have two issues at stake – the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) on one side and the continuing resolution plus the debt ceiling on the other. There’s just not a lot of give when you have this kind of asymmetry. So it’s almost certainly going to be one side that caves.
As said before, it’s hard to imagine the President and his supporters in the US Senate giving in, so let’s just call that a low probability event. It’s probably going to be a Republican give of some kind. And one is brewing in the form of a general revolt of “pragmatic Republicans” who understand how dangerous this game is.
There is a growing and, more importantly, increasingly vocal group of Republicans who are apparently organizing in the US House. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) held a meeting in his office to discuss a way out that 10 Republicans attended, but he claims that “about two dozen” support finding a way out of this. “Maybe it’s because I come from New York. I rely on back room meetings to get things done,” he said. “I’m hoping someone’s going to meet behind the scenes somewhere and we’re going to make a deal.”
That deal, like the real fight, would be within the Republican Party as it looks for a way to declare victory. It’s unlikely to come on the floor of the House, where a defection of only 15 Republicans joining 203 Democrats could put an end to this. It would look very, very bad if it came down to that, however.
That’s the problem with High School civics – it all seems so reasonable in the abstract. The reality of a two party system is far more complicated.
But what about those “pragmatic Republicans” who want to end this? They are looking at a number of plans to make this about much more than the government shutdown. Michael Grimm (R-NY) believes that a big deal that includes the continuing resolution to re-open government, debt ceiling, and even the sequester (!!) could be the way out of this whole thing. That would be much more impressive, although it would probably take time to bundle it all together in a way that made political sense. But it does change the issue and thus makes it more possible to declare victory.
King feels that it’s inevitable, however. The questions he and his colleagues are asking are apparently “When they should do it, how it should be done, what process we should follow.”
The bond market apparently believes that a default is very unlikely, given that bond prices are not changing. The rate for a 10yr Treasury has been in the 2.6-2.7% range for the last week and a half – and apparently even foreign bondholders are operating under the assumption that nothing crazy is going to happen. Given how much money is at stake for them, their cool hand probably means that they know something that the rest of us don’t.
So how will this all end? The long and short of it is that there is a faction of Republicans that are not going to allow a default, no matter what, and the bond market apparently believes that this is the case. So it’s probably best to not panic and see how it all plays out. Crossies?
This doesn’t answer what the fallout will be for the Republican party both in their primaries and in the general election. As it stands right now, the 2014 elections are a year away – an eternity in current politics. If nothing too terribly bad happens it’s not likely that voters will remember this as it stands now, so action as early as this weekend into next Monday probably means that this is a non-event.
The question remains how the Tea Party will take it all, however. It seems increasingly likely that they will not win, and Obamacare will indeed continue just as it is right now – the law of the land as the new exchanges are gearing up to a rocky start with a lot of people signing up. What if it works and becomes popular? The question becomes how rigid its opponents want to be through the next year, should the public decide that the changes to health care are either good or largely benign. The Tea Party is still very much banking on a colossal failure – which is unlikely to happen.
Will this fight continue a year from now? They’ve been pretty stubborn so far, so probably. But that might mean it’s the last time we hear from them as a national force.
That would give a lot more room for those “pragmatic Republicans” to flex their muscle. A guy can dream, can’t he?