Thursday, October 17, 2013
Shutdown Settled, Nothing Resolved
There is no such thing in man’s nature as a settled and full resolution either for good or evil, except at the very moment of execution.
Nathanial Hawthorne (1604-1864), Twice Told Tales
The government shutdown is over. Regrettably, it does not settle or resolve any ObamaCare issues except one minor one – providing new procedures to determine the income of persons receiving government supplements. Otherwise, the health law emerged unscathed.
The Obama-Congressional deal extends government funding until January 15, 2014 and the nation’s borrowing authority until February 7, 2014.
Meanwhile federal spending and the budget deficit will continue to grow.
How the “settlement” will effect the November 4, 2014 midterms is not known, but conventional media wisdom is that it spells doom for the GOP. The settlement unquestionably represents a victory for Congressional Democrats and President Obama. It does nothing to curb or change the health law. It is said to be a resounding defeat for Republicans, especially their combative conservative wing.
But the settlement foretells a twice told, even third told, tale about the gap between the two parties. When revisited come January or February, whether it will change political and policy dynamic is highly unlikely.
Over the next three months, you are more likely to witness renewed battles, centering on whether to exempt Congress and its staffs and the President himself from ObamaCare and whether to repeal the medical device tax, which both parties oppose since it represses medical innovation and hiring, notably in liberal states like Massachusetts and Massachusetts and New York. The larger issues tax reform and entitlement restructuring will probably remain untouched.
The settlement gives the Administration breathing room to see the health exchanges have digital legs, or to prove the critics’ thesis that the exchange’s computer systems are so structurally unsound and politically unappealing that that ObamaCare will collapse because its flaws. The question will become: can ObamaCare be resuscitated or is it politically brain-dead?
Finally, there is an opportunity for President Obama to how he can negotiate, compromise, and govern. At issue will be health law provisions that impair economic growth, create business uncertainties, and cause businesses to drop coverage for employees, spouses, retirees unions, and convert low wage workers to part-time work.
Tweet: Obama administration and Congress have struck a deal extending government funding until 1/15/2014 while leaving the health law untouched.