Shutdown: State of Play
of "State of Play"
shutdown may be imminent if neither Republicans or Democrats budge in their budget
The state of play is this: The House yesterday passed a bill defunding Obamacare
and tying it into resolution to continue funding government past October
1. The bill would cut off all spending
for implementing and running Obamacare, including subsidies for low income
people to help them pay premiums and federal funds to help states expand Medicaid
The bill keeps the government running but eliminates
money for the health care law. Next week
the House will vote on another bill to postpone the law for a year to extend
the government’s borrowing limit. Neither bill would survive the Democratic
controlled Senate. President Obama says he will not negotiate, compromise, or
even discuss either bill with Republicans.
The first bill will now move to the Senate, where
majority leader Harry Reid will strip the bill of defunding Obamacare language
and pass it back to the House. President Obama says it will veto any bill
that defunds Obamacare.
Neither side wants to shutdown government. It would hurt the GOP and embarrass the President. So a last minute settlement is likely, the nature of which I do not know.
The present situation boils down to a standstill, standoff,
impasse, gridlock, paralysis, grandstanding, a game of chicken, partisanship at its
worst, whatever you want to call it.
The two budget battles are fundamentally a face-off
between the center right and the center left of American politics, between big
government and limited government, between liberal and conservative
ideologies. Both political parties want
to be perceived as in the center for the good of the American people. The United States is neither libertarian or
liberal, but where the center lies is unclear.
The two centrist issues are: the wealth of the economy and the health of
Obamacare. At this point, the twain have yet to meet.
will surely point to the economy’s
stagnant growth – 2% under Obama with 20% of Americans in near poverty (average
income below $29,316) and 15% in poverty
(defined as incomes below $23,492). The left will say someone has to protect
these folks, particularly the Hispanics (average income $39,005) and blacks (average income $33,718) . Both
groups, which voted for Obama by margins of 70% and 93%, lag far behind whites in income (average
$68,182). The source for these figures
is the Census Bureau.
Whether the shutdown occurs will come down to
shouting match and parliamentary maneuvers over Obamacare. The Democrats, with the President and the
Senate and the law on their side have the edge.
The GOP will argue the health law is badly
conceived, poorly received by the public,
and naïve about its negative impact of the economy.
will say the health law is a moral, not an economic issue, a matter of warm-hearted compassion
against cold-blooded capitalism.
The right will say a rising tide lifts all boats, as
it did with Kennedy and Reagan. The left will say don’t let the poor go out
with the tide.
The right will say high taxes and strict regulation
depress the economy. The left will say taxes and regulations are needed to rein
in abuses and are the price of a civilized society.
Meanwhile, President Obama, in a fit of pique, accuses Republians of trying "to extort a president" and "messing with me," as if the whole battle were about him personally rather than the health and wealth of the American people.
And so the debate will rage, with no side a clear
winner. At 12:59 on September 30 a
compromise will be struck that temporarily
saves face for both parties and delays the final reckoning to another day. Because of the political and economic
consequences, the shutdown is unlikely to occur.
stage is set for a possible government shutdown over the issue of defunding
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