Taking The Country Over The Cliff
With yesterday's House vote to tie a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government beyond October 1 to a defunding of Obamacare, the House GOP leadership turned the car keys over to the Tea Party. The consequences of that should be clear to the Obama White House by now, and they should be telling the country between now and October 1 that the House GOP is willing to let the Tea Party minority ruin the country regardless of what the rest of America wants.
The GOP "strategy" behind John Boehner and Eric Cantor's capitulation to the Tea Party yesterday reflects the reality that the House GOP is controlled by 80-90 Tea Party representatives whose constituents want them to do whatever they can to make the law fail, even if that means a shutdown or even a default. This is not hyperbole, as the Pew Center poll released this week confirms this, even if the rest of the GOP wants their representatives to "make it work as well as possible." But if you let the extremist mob take over your party, is there an endgame in sight short of catastrophe? No.
Boehner and Cantor have lept into this with the assumption that once the CR is sent over to the Senate, the GOP can pressure vulnerable 2014 Senate Democratic incumbents to turn against Reid and Obamacare, or failing that, the bill will come back to the House with the defunding stripped out of it. Then what John?
It is assumed that Boehner will either play chicken and send it back again with unacceptable things, sending the government into an October shutdown, or alternately send back a CR devoid of the defunding to avoid a shutdown with Nancy Pelosi's help, something the White House seemingly wants regardless of Pelosi's desire to let Boehner sink himself. Yet as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic points out, helping Boehner out of his own mess with the CR only ensures a default later in October.
There seemingly is no clear strategy on how we get from a likely shutdown to the debt ceiling fight. Despite repeated statements from Obama that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, Cantor talks openly about the GOP's demands for increasing the ceiling, which include delaying Obamacare a year, approval of the Keystone pipeline, and a commitment to a timetable for tax reform. But how does Cantor get to that point later in October if the Tea Party has shut down the government to stop Obamacare at all costs? Why would Cantor or Boehner think that after weeks of a shutdown and damage to the GOP they could force anything upon Obama? Furthermore, if the Tea Party was emboldened by stopping Obamacare through the shutdown, why would they let Cantor cut any deal at all to avoid default, when their constituents want it to happen?
These GOP leaders think that stopping Obamacare at all costs is their winning issue for 2014, which may be true in their gerrymandered districts. But Republicans outside of the Tea Party understand that opposing Obamacare at the expense of a shutdown and default, just so Tea Party darlings can do 2016 fundraising is the end of the national party.
By the way, how many jobs have been created and how many Americans have health coverage due to House GOP actions and policies since 2010?