Since the Republican Party took control of the House in 2011, the government has faced the threat of shutdown every year. So far the U.S. has managed to avoid it through last minute deals and patchwork solutions. But some, including Noam Schieber at the New Republic, are saying that 2014 is going to be the year the U.S. can no longer avoid it.
Scheiber notes the possible reasons why each side in the debate — White House, Senate Democrats, tea party Republicans and Joe Boehner — are willing to go through a shutdown if a compromise can’t be reached.
For the White House, not having to court independents as much as they did before President Obama’s second election frees them up to take more chances. “In 2011, they were queasy about the risks a shutdown posed to the rickety economy, which could ultimately hurt the president. This year, they believe a shutdown would strengthen their hand politically, which is almost certainly true given the public outrage that would rain down on Republicans. One official pointed out that the pressure for spending cuts has subsided with the deficit falling so rapidly on its own.”
But even a more gutsy Obama, who has always sought a compromise, could end up caving before congressional Democrats who may try to get all that they think they can . “They believe they can demand much more in exchange for saving the GOP from a shutdown. ‘Our leadership thinks the time has come to draw a line in the sand, not do a short-term extension,’ a senior Democratic Hill aide told Politico last week. ‘They’re ready for a flash and a pop.' Bottom line: Democrats across the board are more willing to broach a shutdown than at any other time during the past three years.”
And of course on the other side of the coin, you have an increasingly hard to control situation for House Republicans as tea-party hardliners and the GOP establishment attempt to hash things out.
“Unlike mainstream Republicans, who appreciate the damage a shutdown would inflict on their party, the Tea Partiers consider it a win-win,” says Scheiber about the struggle going on within the GOP. “A shutdown would mean they forced their leadership to stand up to Obama, which plays well in their districts and the various organs of the conservative movement. And when the GOP inevitably bowed to public opinion and sued for peace, the Tea Partiers would be able to accuse their weak-kneed leadership of caving, thereby enhancing their status within the party.”
And last but not least is the House Majority Leader John Boehner himself. Usually able to rely on Senate Republicans caving in before the House GOP, Boehner then has the option of being able to say that he was cornered and that there was nothing else to do. But this time around Scheiber notes that the Senate GOP and the White House are barely talking to each other, leaving Boehner out of wiggle room.
“When a reporter asked Boehner last week if he has a new idea for getting the House out of its jam, he responded: ‘Do you have an idea? They’ll (conservatives) just shoot it down anyway.’ To date, he hasn’t even been able to persuade conservatives to delay the Obamacare fight until the debt ceiling showdown, where the terrain is marginally more favorable to the GOP.”
“Now, don’t get me wrong: Boehner clearly prefers to avoid a government shutdown. He’s spent months figuring out how to do that, fully aware of the political debacle it would entail. Unfortunately, it’s now clear that the only way he can induce the political isolation he typically relies on to prod his caucus into semi-rational action is by shutting down the government and inviting the public backlash he’s been so desperate to avoid.”
Do you think that the government will actually be forced to shutdown this time?