Why Obama isn’t in any hurry to cave in over the shutdown

    At the beginning of the whole government shutdown, I was certain that Obama would capitulate. Experience had shown me that, when push came to shove, he’d sooner give in than stand and fight. This time, though, things appear to be different. Instead of caving in to the Republicans, Obama appears to be holding firm on behalf of the American people who put him into office… And I think that I may have just figured out why.

    It’s because he needs the shutdown to divert attention away from the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace.

    Here, with context, is a clip from an article in today’s Washington Post about the federal web portal’s epic fail of a launch.

    …One thing has gone abundantly right for the Affordable Care Act: The Republican Party. Their decision to shut down the government on the exact day the health-care law launched was a miracle for the White House. If Republicans had simply passed a clean-CR on Oct. 1 these last few weeks would’ve been nothing — nothing at all — save for coverage of the health-care law’s disaster. Instead the law has been knocked off the front page by coverage of the Republican Party’s disaster…

    In the interest of fairness, I should probably add a few things at this point in our conversation: First, just because the site failed doesn’t mean that the idea of a federal health insurance marketplace isn’t a good one. Second, even though the site doesn’t seem to be working well now, doesn’t mean that it won’t work well in the future. (Medicare Part D was also considered a failure upon launch, and is now quite well regarded.) Third, Congress, once the Republicans had control of the House, stopped funding IT development for the exchange, seriously crippling the effort. Fourth, the system was overburdened in part due to the fact that several red states refused to create exchanges of their own, as they had been instructed to do… This isn’t to say that the administration doesn’t deserve a good deal of blame. This was, after all, their signature legislative initiative, and they clearly did a poor job of it. But, with that said, there were extenuating circumstances, and the evidence would seem to indicate that things will improve over time.

    Thankfully for the President, though, no one in the media seems to be paying attention. No, all they want to talk about, and rightfully so, is the fact that, every day, Ted Cruz and the Republicans are pushing our nation a little closer to the cliff of insolvency. And, assuming that we can stop them right before they send us into bankruptcy, and the world financial markets into a tailspin, there really doesn’t seem to be any reason to offer the Republicans a way out of the mess that they’ve created. Every day they try a little more desperately to hang the shutdown around the neck of the administration, and every day their approval ratings drop a little more. It would seem that the American people, who can still remember the House Republicans laughing and clapping when they shut the government down two weeks ago, aren’t now willing to believe them when they say that Obama started it. And, Obama, it would seem, is happy to just stand by, watching as they burn.

    The irony is incredible. Had they just done their jobs, they could have spent the past two weeks relentlessly skewering the President. They could have kept the House, and maybe even picked up the Executive. Now, though, that’s looking like a remote possibility at best. Even some of the most heavily gerrymandered districts, which looked incredibly safe for Republican incumbents just a week ago, are now in play. And its all their own doing… They gambled that Obama would break, and that the American people would back them up, and neither happened. And, now, they’re fucked. They’ve finally been exposed for the charlatans, sore losers, and psychopaths that they are, and it may well spell the end of the entire Republican party.

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      18 Comments

      1. EOS
        Posted October 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        Except this isn’t a game of chicken. It’s not about whether Obama or the Republicans blink first. What has pushed us over the insolvency cliff is the endless spending without revenue to pay the bills. It’s about a debt so large that 100% of income tax revenue won’t even be able to pay the interest on the debt, much less any grandiose health care scheme. It’s about a Federal Reserve System that can collapse our economy at will and implement an austerity program that will destroy our future. But keep cheering for the D’s and R’s and telling yourself that it makes a difference. That’s the real diversion here.

      2. K2
        Posted October 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        You might be more credible on this point, EOS, if you spoke up even once about deficit spending prior to the Obama presidency. Where were you during the Bush administration?

      3. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

        Sorry, I wasn’t a fan of Bush either. I’m conservative, not Republican.

      4. anonymous
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        When they say “it’s about the deficit” it makes them sound smart and fiscally responsible. The truth is, though, their constant attacks against the president have nothing to do with the deficit. The studies have shown that the Affordable Care Act will not grow the deficit. In fact, repealing the Affordable Care Act will grow the deficit.

      5. Meta
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        From CNN Fact Check:

        ASSERTION:
        Repealing Obamacare will add to the deficit.

        President Barack Obama at the Clinton Global Initiative, September 24, said: “It is a net reduction of our deficit…if they repealed the law it would add to the deficit.”

        FACTS:
        In May, 2013 the Congressional Budget Office wrote House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis, stating, that it and the Joint Committee on Taxation “most recently estimated the budgetary impact of repealing the [Affordable Care Act] in July 2012. In a letter to Speaker Boehner (sent on July 24, 2012), CBO described the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act, as passed by the House of Representatives earlier in July. In that letter, CBO indicated that the net savings from eliminating the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions that repeal of the ACA would entail. On balance, CBO and JCT estimated, repealing the ACA would affect direct spending and revenues in ways resulting in a net increase in budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period.”

        The ACA law as written requires a lot of money to be shelled out over the next 10 years – $1.4 trillion. But it also raises tax revenue and the hope is that it will help cut health care costs.

        As a result, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the law as a whole would reduce deficits.

        VERDICT:
        True.

        Read more:
        http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/25/fact-check-repealing-obamacare-adds-to-deficit/

      6. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Those damn statistics!

        http://www.healthcarereformdigest.com/will-the-affordable-care-act-add-to-the-federal-deficit

      7. Fox
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        The New Republic has an interesting article today on why the Republican party cannot divest itself of the Tea Party. (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115189/gop-cant-survive-without-tea-party)

        “Apparently, it’s become fashionable to wonder whether fissures in the GOP might eventually grow into a schism, with tea party candidates mounting independent challenges to the GOP in the 2014 elections. Last night, David Frum went a step farther, writing that a tea party exodus might actually help Republicans by freeing them of Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, allowing the GOP to slide back to the political center. It’s a centrist fantasy.

        If Republicans think they have a pathway to victory without the tea party, they’re sorely mistaken. The tea party is not some small, fringe element of the Republican coalition. It’s not the Buchanan 2000 vote, or something. The tea party is the Republican Party, at least as much as any single constituency can claim, with the possible and overlapping exception of Evangelicals.

        According to a July Pew Research survey, Tea Party Republicans make up nearly half (49 percent) of the Republican primary electorate and fully 37 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners. So long as Democrats remain modestly unified, it is not conceivable that Republicans could compensate for the loss of anything near 37 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners with gains among moderates and independents. Once a Republican realized there aren’t enough opportunities to win without the tea party, the centrist fantasy would come to an end. Republicans would immediately tack back to their right, in an effort to consolidate the Republican coalition.”

      8. Answer Man
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        I’m sure you know this, EOS, but your source is a private consulting firm that helps large corporations manage benefit programs. I don’t know that it necessarily taints their assessment of the ACA, but I think that it’s likely they would be against the legislation as it makes their services less necessary. (People employ them because health care is confusing and intimidating, and the ACA seeks to make it less so.)

      9. Meta
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        The new polls are in, and things are looking grim for the Republicans.

        A staggering 74 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way that congressional Republicans are handling Washington’s budget crisis, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday.

        The poll finds that popular perception of the GOP has been declining since the government shut down on October 1. Two weeks ago, 63 percent disapproved of the Republicans’ handling of the budget dispute; that number rose to 70 percent last week, and 74 percent today.

        By contrast, just 53 percent disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the crisis — essentially unchanged from before the government shutdown — and 61 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats on the issue, up from 56 percent two weeks ago.

        Disapproval of the GOP strategy cuts across demographic groups, but Republicans should be especially troubled by their performance among women, who disapprove of their handling of the budget dispute by an overwhelming 77 to 17 percent margin.

        Even among Republicans, 49 percent disapprove of their own party’s actions.

        Read more:
        http://www.nationalmemo.com/poll-disapproval-of-republicans-hits-new-high/

      10. Bob Reich by proxy
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        House Republicans sang “Amazing Grace” at a closed-door meeting this morning after deciding they’ll stick to their plan to alter the Affordable Care Act and risk a government default, according to Darrell Issa, a Tea Partier from California. But if they were once lost and blind, they’re giving no hint of being found and seeing what a mess they’ve created. Even when this crisis is over, further crises lie ahead unless we correct three distortions of our democracy that have allowed a minority of extremist Republicans to hold the nation hostage:

        (1) Gerrymandered congressional districts have shielded the extremists from accountability to the broader public. Gerrymandering isn’t new but in recent years right-wing state legislatures have extended and perfected it. The best solution: redistricting by nonpartisan committee. Voters supported this in California; evidence suggests many voters in “red” states would now be supportive as well.

        (2) Unlimited and often secret money from a handful of right-wing billionaires has bankrolled the extremists. Big money in politics isn’t new, either, but the Supreme Court’s disgraceful 2010 decision in “Citizen’s United vs. Federal Election Commission” opened the floodgates, and the recently-argued “McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission” (challenging the personal donation limits that became law in 1974) could open them wider. “Citizen’s United” must be reversed, if necessary by a constitutional amendment. And at least one of the five Republicans on the Court must be replaced by someone dedicated to preserving our democracy. In the meantime, there must be full disclosure of all contributors.

        (3) Raging inequality — with the typical family getting poorer and almost all economic gains going to a small group at the top –- has made the white working class susceptible to the extremists, financed by those seeking to entrench their privilege and power. As Justice Louis Brandeis said over a century ago when America faced a similar scourge, “We can have a democracy or we can have huge wealth in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

      11. Carl
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Obama is either brilliant or he’s got some great luck. First with Syria and now with this.

      12. EOS
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Why do so many people feel that Congress is obligated to continuously raise the debt limit? Where will it end? Is there any limit? What happens when the world stops buying our T-bills? Who will get the blame or accept the responsibility then?

      13. Dan
        Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        EOS,

        when that happens, we throw a fundraiser.

      14. wobblie
        Posted October 16, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

        the only thing that will cause governments and individuals from buying T-bills is the Republican caused default. I think they have been listening to “buy gold” commercials for so long that they have all drank the cool-aid and are going to drag us down.

      15. EOS
        Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        If there is a default, the blame lies with the majority party who failed to present a plan that could pass both houses.

      16. Oliva
        Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

        It’s blasphemy to even mention Peter Tosh and Sarah Palin together (I’m sorry, Peter!), but seeing her vulgar display on a news clip from the other day–and thinking about her damaging role over these past years–I keep thinking of that Peter Tosh line from “Downpressor Man”: “I wouldn’t like to be a flea under your collar.” But it’s obviously just not Palin who is the problem. I’m so heartened to hear about the shrinking Tea Party–shrinking fast, at last–and hope the time comes quickly when this country overwhelmingly rejects that debilitating crassness and disdain for humanity. (I just heard about a book about Dallas 50 years ago–DALLAS: 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steve Davis–where much Tea Party like hatred was being stoked, ahead of Kennedy’s visit. Kennedy was a socialist, you know. Not! http://www.kera.org/2013/10/15/dallas-50-years-ago/)

        But in the meantime, it sure is nice to hear Peter Tosh sing in the morning (and see him again): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBa4DvSkjJshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBa4DvSkjJs

      17. anonymous
        Posted October 21, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Obama addressed the problems with the website today.

        President Obama said today that no one is more frustrated by the problems with HealthCare.gov than he is. “There’s no excuse for the problems,” including the website working too slowly and people getting stuck during the online application process, he said.

        The president said officials are working to get it running as it should. “We are confident that we will get all the problems fixed,” Obama said.

        Though some people are having trouble applying online, those who have enrolled are “thrilled with the result,” and people can apply in other ways, including though a call center or in person at certain locations across the country, he said.

      18. Kim Terry
        Posted October 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Almost half a million people have already signed up on the exchange, so it must be working to some extent.

        http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/20/2806621/obama-administration-half-million-americans-begun-applying-obamacare/

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