It’s Hurting Dems, Too

Democrats are happy because they believe Republicans are destroying themselves by shutting down the government over Obamacare.

Dick Morris 1

They are right. But the problem is that so are the Democrats & so is President Obama.

House Republicans need to stop the bleeding over their government shutdown. By letting things get to this pass, they are prejudicing their ability to do battle over the debt limit — far more favorable terrain for a GOP stand.

Republicans are not explaining their effort to delay the individual mandate properly. Most people do not understand that under their proposal, the insurance exchanges will remain open to all comers. Anyone who wants insurance can and will get it. The only change is that the Republicans want to delay the coercion, which requires participation in the exchanges for a year.

The Republicans need to emphasize that they are not proposing any alteration in the Democratic goal of coverage for all who want it.

The only reason the Republican approach is not acceptable to the Senate and the president is that they worry that unless people have to sign up, they won’t. They are concerned that their efforts to lower the cost of coverage won’t be enough to entice the uninsured to sign up.

But the harm is not all one-sided. While President Clinton gained points for being reasonable and looked strong, Obama looks disengaged, detached, passive, weak and irrelevant. He looks like a lame duck as he goes golfing while the shutdown hangs in the balance. During the shutdowns of 1995-96, President Clinton was the exact opposite — passionately engaged, working the phones, negotiating daily with the Republicans and in the thick of the fight. Obama seems almost a spectator, cheering his side on like a fan, not like a coach, much less a player.

Democrats will also find that the mayhem they predict from a shutdown won’t really be nearly as bad as the media predicts.

Inside the beltway, lots of federal employees won’t have paychecks and the economy will suffer. But the Washington D.C. metro area is one of the richest in the nation, courtesy of the American taxpayer. It can take it for a few days.

But a longer shutdown will wear the patience of the public employees thin. It could cost Obama and the party lots of goodwill and maybe endanger their chances of winning the Virginia governorship.

For the Republicans, the danger of the shutdown is that it reinforces the negative image the party acquired in the days of the Clinton impeachment. They come across as implacable, unreasonable, inflexible, hair trigger, irresponsible and a touch immature. Certainly not ready for prime time.

But the big reason the Republicans need to end this fight quickly is that it imperils their ability to make a stand over the debt limit. Obama and the Democrats look good trying to keep the government open and functioning. They will look bad begging for the ability to borrow more money. Their “buddy can you spare a dime” affect will not help them nationally.

Obama can paint a dire picture of default, but the Republicans can counter by pointing out that there are more than enough tax revenues to avoid default. They can pass legislation requiring that debt service, military pay, and Social Security be prioritized in the expenditure of tax money. While a debt limit shutdown will stop the government from borrowing $3 billion daily, it will not impair the tax collections of $10 billion daily, more than enough to meet those three obligations and then some.

As in a labor dispute where a strike hurts both sides, let’s end this nonsense, now.

Also See,

Shutdown Solution: Obamacare Exchanges Yes; Individual Mandate No

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