Thursday, October 17, 2013

Post Mortem on the CR and Debt ceiling fight

I know some Republicans are trying to put a good face on the government shut down and debt limit fight but face it, we lost. Obamacare did not get defunded which was the first objective of the refusal of house Republicans to pass a continuing resolution. Neither did Republicans win a one-year delay which was the fall-back position of House Republicans. What we did gain is that the government is only funded through Jan. 17th and the debt limit will be reached on Feb 7th and the sequester cuts were kept in place. Between now and then, Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration can work on a budget deal that will address the national debt. If no deal is reached then we may be facing the same situation again. The government can shut down on Jan. 18th and on Feb 6th it can reopen with another last minute deal that extends the debt limit. Is that a great accomplishment? I don't think so.

I never did see how the tactic of trying to use the CR to force a change in Obamacare was going to work. This is not 20/20 hind site or Monday morning quarterbacking. Prior to the shut down I wrote, "As much as I admire Senator Ted Cruz’s tenacity and as much as I would like to see ObamaCare defunded, I am afraid the current effort to do so is a quixotic attempt that is doomed to failure." We simply did not have the votes to prevail.

After the shutdown occurred, I do think Republicans should have done more to put the blame on Obama.  We should have been prepared with billboards and TV spots urging Obama to reopen the government. The one gift we can be thankful for is Obama's petty effort to make the shut down hurt as much as possible. His blockaiding of veterans from visiting memorials reflected more badly on Obama than it did Republicans. Still, Republicans got most of the blame for the shutdown and for risking a world-wide economic disaster should we have defaulted on our debt.

I absolutely think we should get rid of Obamacare and we must do something to reverse the runaway national debt. It is not because of the goal, that I disagree with some of the more dogmatic tea party Republicans, but it is the strategy.  The strategy should have been to let the CR pass after passing a House amendment to defund Obama Care, and when that was defeated, then an amendment to delay Obamacare. Both would have been defeated in the Senate but all Democrats would have been on record. The CR would have passed without a shut down. We should have concentrated on the debt limit and pretty much ended up with what we got: the sequester and a short-term debt ceiling raise.

Our primary goal should have been to keep control of the house next election and pick up some seats in the Senate so we could then defund, repeal and replace Obamacare and address the national debt. We could have done it. We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  Now, we will be lucky if we can hold the House.

By engaging in this tactic we lost a couple things that were going our way: (1) The Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal and the domestic spying scandal were knocked off the front page by the shut down. People have by now pretty much forgotten them. (2) The failure of the roll out of Obamacare got a lot less attention than it would have, had we not been focusing on the CR and debt limit deadline.

Now that the debt limit and CR fight is behind us, people like Glenn Beck and other tea party pundits are either calling for forming a new political party or taking revenge on all Republicans who were not supportive of the recent kamikaze mission.  This is a sure recipe for a Democrat victory. A third party will fail miserably and a divided Republican Party with bitter primary campaigns will only benefit Democrats.

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1 comment:

  1. I disagree with you on this one, Rod. Cruz and others took a stand and I think voters who are sick of debt and growing government are looking for leaders to take a stand. It also exposed Democrats as taking a stand--for the wrong things. Republicans did actually seek to compromise and were rebuffed by Obama and the Democrats at every turn. Of course that truth got very little air time. I agree the effort was doomed to failure but it brought attention to the debt and to Democrats as the party of debt, the party of not just "soak the rich" but "soak our grandchildren". There are some key differences between now and 1995 not least the presence of Fox News as a mouthpiece giving air time to the Tea Party fight in that battle. I don't believe anything about this battle detracted from election efforts in 2014. If anything, it clarified those who deserve our votes and those who were willing to abandon the fight early, like Tennessee's two Senators. The House remained firm in this fight and I don't believe there will be any losses there. Yes, it was a fight doomed to failure but it also highlighted those Democrats and RINO's who were ready to kick the can down the road for a few months. Nothing was gained except a postponement. All this did was embolden the Democrats to hold to their guns in the next round. And encourage RINO's that they would be painted as the "sensible" ones by a media whose accolades they covet.