The country, too, is different. We will never -- and I mean never -- hear Obama offer America a speech declaring the era of big government over, because, well, it would be preposterous, and it's not as if the country wants to hear it.
How Republicans shut down government matters, though. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would probably trigger panic in the markets. A more politically opportune time would be to deal with this when the government's general operating budget expires. Seeing as Senate Democrats have been unable to produce a budget for years -- and not a single politician has voted for an Obama budget -- Republicans have a case to make about responsible governing.
But even if the GOP risks losing the short-term politics, no matter how fortuitous a shutdown might be for Democrats, it isn't a situation any side could live with for an extended period of time. Obama would almost surely have to concede more on taxes and entitlement reform. Without a shutdown -- or the threat of one -- however, Republicans have no other leverage to obtain anything useful from the White House.
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