In the Budget Battle, Only Face-Saving Still Drives Republicans

I generally take the Republican side in budget battles.  I have no problem shutting down the government as part of a fight to reduce the size of government.

But the Republicans are lost and without a goal of any sort.  I follow the budget battle closely and even I can't tell you what the Republicans are trying to get any more.  They never got their messaging in place, and have leaped almost at random from issue to issue trying to get something out of the shutdown.  First it was defunding Obamacare, which was never going to fly, and then it was an Obamacare delay, and then it was.... whatever it is now.  I have no idea.

The Republicans are just hanging on trying to save face.  Time to cut bait and move on.  In fact it was time to do this last week.  Take your lumps, let the Left and the media count coup and dance on your grave for a few days, and move the hell on.  Gear up to start highlighting the failures in Obamacare.   These are so bad they could have people forgetting the budget fight within days.

  • Mole1

    "I have no problem shutting down the government as part of a fight to reduce the size of government."

    If it actually resulted in less spending, maybe it would be fine. It certainly highlights some of the useless things, the best being the NPR story on how it was hard for hog-sellers to know what price to ask without the gov't-collated current hog prices; the poor farmers had to figure out what prices to ask by adding up the prices of hog parts (since hog part prices are collated by a private firm but whole-hog prices are collated by the gov't).

    However, there was pretty much unanimous consent to approve back-pay for everyone furloughed, so this is all just BS.

  • Daublin

    I haven't followed closely, but from what you describe, it sounds like a normal two-party negotiation about a price. You each start by asking for the moon, and then you move toward the middle.

    Granted, the middle somehow seems to be that Republicans get nothing at all. Obama and Read seem to have figured that they can stonewall and then successfully blame it on the Republicans.

  • polifrog

    As the previous shutdown shows, there will be no 'moving on'.

    The result will be that the threat of future shutdowns will be used against fiscally sound governance rather than for fiscal prudence. It will also further erode of the House's control of the nation's purse. What value is holding the house when the Senate and the President can exercise an effective preemptive veto? What good is holding the house when so much spending is automated?

    Unfortunately I question my perception when I watch Republicans offer concessions only to get a denial that includes no counter offer and in the end be accused of intransigence or in your case issue hopping.

    What am I seeing wrong??

    Frankly after all the rejected concessions Republicans have made I feel they should go back to the defunding of ObamaCare. If they are to be labeled intransigent then be intransigent. I

  • Teancum

    I wish the Republicans could get their act together to lower government cost. How easy would it be to say "We will pass a CR every 3 months, with our only condition a reduction of %1 each time." Clear, concise, and it will actually do something. Say we want to drastically reduce the budget, and so we are working toward a real budget with real cuts, but until then... 1% cut every 3 months. Not too hard, right?

  • norse

    I firmly believe that the shutdown is a case of thoroughly disgraceful and thoughtless behavior by our elected representatives. They spend a year deciding how much and what to spend on, spend the money, and then comes the moment when - surprise! - the money spent turns out more than budgeted for. That's a lack of planning and foresight that could be fixed by a 12 year old using a spreadsheet. Instead of agreeing on how to bring the numbers down or that the spending was really essential, there are a few weeks of infighting during which the rest of the world (and quite a few Americans) wonder who got a club of misbehaving petty children to run the show. Meanwhile, shutting the government down for a few weeks doesn't result in a single dollar saved (as furloughed workers get extra paid vacation - if I were working in government, I'd be motivated to see it shut down long and hard, which I doubt is great incentive) and the usual victims are harmed in the process. The worst part is that there are substantial cost in every years budget that could greatly benefit from actual reductions, but somehow, that never appears to happen.

  • August

    I hope they keep it up past a few deadlines. They won't default on the 17th, or at least the government doesn't have to because it can just start budgeting properly and prioritize the debt payments over everything else. If they did default, good. I don't want future generations paying that off. The people who lend to these criminals should lose their money so that no one will lend to them. In D.C. constraints work well, but principles never seem to.

  • mlhouse

    THis game is a political game that is measured in being reelected. So, what do the Republicans have to fear? None of their constituencies are hurt by the shutdown and their voter base will be fired up for the 2014 off year election. The Democrats are only winning the battle of the media, which they always will win because the mainstream media is nothing but the extension of the Democratic Party and are cowardly minions.

    RIght now Obama is out talking about the terrible things that will happen if the shutdown continues and we "default" on the debt. If it is so terrible, why doesn't he offer compromises to solve the problem?

  • Rick Caird

    If not this fight, then which fight? Each time the Republicans cave, the Democrats want more the next time. Now, the evil Harry Reid does just want a "clean" CR, he wants one that restores the sequester cuts. But, cuts are not the correct description. All the sequester did was take a little off the growth. Do not forget, the reason Reid and Obama love the CR is that it does not touch all the spending increases from 2009 and 2010. A CR institutionalize the increased spending.

  • marque2

    I still don't understand why we would default on the debt. Wish someone could explain it to me. We still have money coming in to fund some 90% of government activity, and the debt interest only amounts to about 10% of that. My understanding is the debt is the first thing that has to be funded.

    Unless Obama does it on purpose, like he closed down the parks - we shouldn't have a default. Of course with every paper pusher now being "essential" maybe we still are running a massive deficit.

  • bigmaq1980

    You make a great point. I also think this undermines the leverage the GOP have in this situation.

    We are in this situation because the proper process for Budget negotiation was never engaged...

    http://www.budget.senate.gov/republican/public/index.cfm/budget-background?ID=b630d3bd-f985-4943-a87a-a746ecec6a51

    Which is a pattern common to the Dems/Obama over this and the last term, for instance Obamacare:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-09-26/obamacare-most-polarizing-legislation-history-congress

    Certainly the GOP (pushed by the Tea Party) over-reached, and it seems the defund tactic was more based on hope than a superior "read" of the political situation. Their energy would have been better spent focusing on the string of controversies already in play for Obama (Benghazi, IRS, NSA, Syria, etc) and prepare for the Obamacare pending failure...

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/gop-seizes-advantage-on-obamacare-white-house-struggles-to-defend-an-alternative-history-of-the-past-two-months/article/2537193

    All those issues Obama was being hit on are now virtually nowhere to be found. Momentum is completely lost on them. Not sure anything meaningful will come out of the hoopla generated by the GOP.

    One hopes, but it is not good to hear that the Dems now have the sequester on the table for discussion.

  • jdgalt

    The Republicans are not agreed on a message mainly because politically, this whole event is a showdown between the big-government "mainstream" Republicans backed by Boehner and the RNC, and the Tea Party people, over who will control the Republican Party.

    The problem is a real and important one. The federal government's budget and debt have more than doubled in size during each presidency since that of Ford, and much of that growth has been "automated" (written into ongoing laws that will continue to generate more spending unless expressly changed). That's not just unsustainable, it's a one-way ticket to the status of a banana republic, with inflation in the hundreds or thousands of percent and an economy so overtaxed and regulated that no business can survive except by operating off the books.

    The ONLY way to stop this spiral of doom is to draw the line somewhere and refuse to raise the debt ceiling. Ever again. I realize this amounts to a group of addicts going cold turkey, but they'd better get used to the idea now.

    I say, now is a better time to do it than any alternative still available (and it's too bad they didn't have the sense to do it long before).