In the clamor to blame Republicans for the government shutdown and to claim victory in the agreement to keep the government running for a whopping three months, Democrats are missing the point. Yes, the GOP’s image took a beating in polls, but so did congress as a whole, and President Obama particularly.
Republicans kept the president on the defensive. At times he acted like a spoiled child, while other times he acted like a bully refusing to negotiate. I think everyone knows that the president is supposed to put the country ahead of his desire to get his way. In my opinion, we don’t have that.
Senator Reid came across as a stodgy, wealthy, old white guy. Wait a minute, isn’t that what the GOP is accused of being? Reid has gone on such a power trip who knows if he’ll ever touch down to earth again. And Pelosi? Her comments are becoming more and more bizarre, and she appears to be succumbing to senility.
Republicans just might find themselves satisfied with the outcome of this battle. They kept their main issue, the Affordable Care Act, front and center. The President had hoped to return from the Congressional recess to push the immigration bill through the House. Instead, for the better part of the past six weeks, the conversation has been about Obamacare, sequestration, spending cuts, and avoiding fiscal catastrophe. Even with the newest crisis shoved down the road for three months the sequestration is still in place, which has severely hampered some government agencies with cutbacks and lack of funding.
The battle has, also, shown that Republicans are willing to stand on principle and fight for what is in the best interest of, not only the current population, but future generations that are now saddled with an ever increasing debt.
Julian Zelizer of CNN Opinion stated it this way:
Just as many Americans seemed to accept sequestration, conservative Republicans have not yet felt any serious political threat as a result of their having forced a government shutdown.
Nor is it clear that there will be any negative consequences to them for having gone to the brink of a federal default in their fight for concessions on the budget deal. If they are left standing, there is little reason to think that they won’t use these tactics once again. The last month offers them a template.
Furthermore, the current deal simply postpones any decision and actually sets up another round of fights when Congress returns from its winter break in December. the new year will look very much like the one that came before.
Given the pattern we have seen, conservative Republicans will be just as likely, even more likely, to employ the same kind of aggressive tactics and try to force the administration into accepting deep cuts in domesticate spending if Obama wants to keep the economy in stable condition.
Conservatives will be even more emboldened as they seek to please their constituents going into the 2014 midterm elections. The deal that emerged from the Senate is simply a continuation of the kind of political chaos that we have witnessed since the 2010 midterms. Obama will have to start fighting on this issue as soon as the ink is dry.
Obama has spent much of his second term on defense, responding to pressure from House Republicans to cut spending and trying to combat their use of radical procedural weapons.
This crisis was clearly the most dangerous moment for the country. And it is true that Obama and congressional Democrats walk away having achieved important objectives. After all, the government is up and running again, at least for the time being, and Congress has raised the debt ceiling, thereby averting a global meltdown.
But Republicans have defined the national agenda and forced a deal that doesn’t resolve debate. Just the opposite: It ensures that the fights will continue and the threat of default continues into the foreseeable future.
Until Democrats find a way to reach some kind of long-term budget accord by building sufficient pressure – and electoral support – to push back against the Republican Right, they’ll find themselves on the losing side of this issue over and over again.