The federal government shut down and right now House Republicans look really stupid but so do the President and Senate Democrats. None of the three want to do the jobs they were elected to do: serve at the behest of “we the people.” Everyone needs to grow up and if non-essential government workers don’t get paid, I don’t think the President or members of Congress should either.
But I want to focus on the Republicans’ antics because it’s not a good look for the party. First, Senator Ted Cruz went on his defund Obamacare rant in the Senate, which did nothing to change things. The Senate passed a bill to fund the government for only six weeks, stripped of any House Obamacare defund language, tossed it back to House Speaker John Boehner for a vote.
Enter Cruz again, the indefatigable defund hero, who riled up over 50 House Republicans who insisted on attaching Obamacare to the House’s temporary government funding bill. Cheered on by Cruz, the House Republicans contorted and passed several funding bills ornamented with Obamacare delay or defund language. Before the stroke of midnight Monday, the last and final House bill rejected by the Senate included delaying Obamacare for a year and repealing the exemption from the healthcare law for members of Congress and their staff.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this funding bill isn’t a budget. In the past five years, Congress hasn’t passed a budget funding the government but only votes on last minute continuing resolutions to keep the government churning till the next crises. Since winning the majority if the House in 2010, Republicans have passed budgets but the Democrat led Senate has not.
Republicans are losing the government shutdown PR battle. They need to get on the same page with a singular strategy and message and COMPROMISE. Where Obama beats Republicans consistently is he does a better job of telling and selling his agenda, though flawed, to the American people. Obama consistently stays on his message of blaming Republicans for every crisis, not rubber-stamping his spending agenda that jeopardizes America’s financial health with unsustainable debt levels not seen since World War II (approaching 70% of GDP). And it works.
A better strategy for House Republicans would be to approve a “clean” Senate funding bill and focus its energies on tying Obamacare to the debt ceiling battle in October. It isn’t a good idea to shut down the government, as Senator Rand Paul said on Face the Nation Sunday, “But I also think that it’s not a good idea to give the president 100% of what he wants on Obamacare.” And Senator Paul is right.