Government Shutdown: The Fight Is Win-Win for GOP

Why the looming shutdown is a boon for the Republicans.

For Republicans, the cliffhanger over a government shutdown is a win-win.

If they manage to extract a concession from Senate Democrats in exchange for voting to approve a continuing resolution to fund the government’s operations, then they’ve won. The House Republicans are asking for a repeal of Obamacare’s tax on medical devices and a one-year delay of the implementation of the health care law. If they get either one, they’ll have achieved something that they wouldn’t have achieved had they been as pliant as President Obama wanted.

And — here is the underappreciated point — if the Republicans fold and approve the spending bill without extracting any concessions from Democrats, then they’ve also won. Because in that case, Americans will actually get a chance to see for themselves what a train-wreck Obamacare is. If the law is really as bad as Republicans say it is, then as a political matter, what could be better for Republicans than voters finding out firsthand?

Polls have consistently shown the public’s attitude to Obamacare as skeptical verging on hostile. That’s based on opinion shaped in part by Republican descriptions of the law. If the real thing matches the scary scenario painted by Republican critics — or simply fails to live up to the utopia promised by President Obama and the Democrats — the politics of that should be great for the Republicans.

Democratic politicians dined out for years on anecdotal and sometimes even apocryphal health care horror stories — the woman whose coverage was dropped when she got cancer, the family that went bankrupt because of a child’s medical bills, the grandfather who had to choose between food and medicine. Once the health care law goes into effect, every problem with American health care — the medical errors, the inscrutable blizzards of bills and explanations of benefits, the wait to get an appointment with a specialist or even a highly regarded non-specialist, the high cost, the odd combination of high technology (MRIs, artificial hips) and low technology (you usually can’t email your doctor) — can be laid, as a political matter, directly at the feet of President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.

So Republicans hoping for a year’s delay in the implementation of the law may want to be careful what they wish for. And Democrats hoping against a delay should be careful what they wish for.

The Republicans trying to prevent the disaster can argue that they are nobly putting their country’s economy and the public health above the politics of it. Quietly, some worry that the subsidies for individuals are so generous, and the rewards for interest groups like health insurance companies and drug companies are so attractive, that once people get used to them they will be impossible to ratchet back. Others despair that somehow the weak job growth will be blamed on House Republicans, new technology, or foreign competition instead of the culprit of Obamacare. None of those concerns are entirely unfounded.

Yet consider that when the time rolls around to fix Obamacare’s problems in 2016, voters may find themselves with a chance to vote for Hillary Clinton, whose health care expertise stems from her failed effort to impose Hillarycare on the country in her husband’s first term. If her opponent is a Republican governor with a record of job growth in his or her state and of more market-oriented practical leadership on health care, the current shutdown standoff could yet emerge as a turning point in the 2016 campaign.

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  • G-dub||

    "Because in that case, Americans will actually get a chance to see for themselves what a train-wreck Obamacare is."

    Wouldn't this happen anyway, w/o a government shut-down?

  • Another David||

    But then the Republicans wouldn't look like dipshits. They're politicians, so we can't have that.

  • Cytotoxic||

    But then the Republicans wouldn't look like dipshits.

    Supine = smart, apparently

  • Tony||

    Republicans succeed when Americans suffer. It's not true, but it is what they're betting on, which somehow seems worse.

  • FYTW||

    Fuck off, sockpuppet.

  • Carolynp||

    Wow, you read my mind.

  • Bryan C||

    The President is the only one insisting that we must shut down the government. If anyone suffers for it, it's clearly Obama's fault. If you really care, why aren't you trying to change his mind?

  • Sevo||

    Tony|9.30.13 @ 5:19PM|#

    'Republicans succeed when Americans suffer [the consequences of Obama]'.

  • Tony||

    What would those be, specifically?

  • Butler||

    Obamacare is the obvious one, since that's the subject of the article. But, one could also add NSA spying, the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, higher debt levels, institutionalized high deficits, chronic high unemployment, devaluation of the currency, politicization of the IRS, usurping the power to engage in foreign wars without congressional authorization, and generally concentrating power unconstitutionally in the executive in such a way that our constitutional balance of powers is little more than a shell of the framers' intent.

    I'm sure there are more to be added, but that's right off the top of my head.

  • JWatts||

    Yeah, but other than that how have Americans suffered? /derp

  • Carolynp||

    I think there's a lot to be said for taking us to the brink of a world war in Syria, but high marks for getting most of it.

  • Bill||

    There have only been a dozen or so articles written here on the topic this year, Tony. Surely in that time you have actually tried to read one?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    NSA spookery, IRS thuggery, illegal wars, and a zillion other things which are in the back of your mind but hidden by blinders.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    'Republicans succeed when Americans suffer [the consequences of Obama]'.

    Tony|9.30.13 @ 5:26PM|#

    What would those be, specifically?

    Job loss
    Declining income
    Fewer hours offered by employer
    Can't find a new job
    Insurance canceled by employer
    Higher premium for worse insurance
    Forced to buy that insurance by government

    Higher Taxes
    Higher utility bills

  • Number 7||

    If things would only get worse, my team wins. Fuck Teams.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I honestly don't think anyone can predict how this plays out for Republicans. Maybe a lot of Reason commentators are right, and the public won't revolt over a shutdown, or won't blame the Republicans if they are unhappy. But I think the R's are playing with fire here, and the deck is stacked against them. I could very easily see this being costly.

  • ||

    Ira does make a good point that republicans can simply blink at any time...and they probably will if things turn bad or even look like they will turn bad.

    They are playing with fire in an outdoor fire pit while it rains while standing over it with a fire hose and extinguishers aimed at it.

  • LynchPin1477||

    This is the Republicans we are talking about. It is much more likely they plan on pissing and shitting on it to put it out.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Americans will actually get a chance to see for themselves what a train-wreck Obamacare is. If the law is really as bad as Republicans say it is, then as a political matter, what could be better for Republicans than voters finding out firsthand?"

    I hate this kind of thinking, but I understand it.

    It's the same way with the budget deficit. As the Italians and Greeks found out, eventually, when we cross that invisible barrier and our borrowing costs become so onerous that we can no longer finance our debt, we will balance our budget. There's no avoiding it.

    But who wants to go through all that pain? I care about the American people. I don't want to see them have to learn the hard way... Do you know how hard it's going to be on average Americans when the inevitable finally happens? We argue for voluntary austerity now becasue we want to avoid all that pain for ourselves and the people we care about.

    It's the same way with ObamaCare. ObamaCare will fail. ...but who wants to see all that pain? We're trying to dismantle it so we and the people we care about can avoid all that pain. Yeah, if ObamaCare is implemented, it will fail and the Republicans will score some political points--but what about the American people? Won't they be the losers in all this?

    Call me naive, but I care about that.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I share your concerns but the simple truth is that collective action often seems to need a bit of pain to motivate it. In a market that comes from having to prioritize how you allocate whatever resources you have, sometimes requiring difficult choices, and when you make a bad decision you face the consequences. The risk/reward calculus in voting gets muddled by all sorts of things, but the principle is the same.

  • wwhorton||

    It's more like dealing with an addict than like trying to convince a rational person to change course. Evidence and fact and so forth does nothing when the other end of the scale is the promise of a free lunch. I think that the policies of entitlement and "fairness" can be tweaked at the legislative level, but at that point it's just changing the brand of syringe or the amount of smack in a hit. Until the culture of entitlement and "fairness" is eliminated, nothing will change. And I'm afraid that you have to let the addicts hit rock bottom before they'll start to change.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Incidentally, there's an ad on Reason's sidebar right now encouraging me to join "Organizing For Action" to keep "fighting for change", and it features a HUGE photo of a stern faced Barack Obama...

    I just ate a big late lunch, and if I lose it over this? Reason's gonna owe me about eighteen bucks--and that's not chargin' you guys for the tip.

  • ||

    those ads are based on browsing history. It is your own damn fault for reading Jezabel!!!

  • rudehost||

    Then by all means click the damn ad. Reason gets money for every ad clicked and the money they get paid comes from Organizing for Atavists. Your enemy gets weaker and you get stronger. It's classic art of war stuff. Put on a bib and click one for the team.

  • wadair||

    Could the real republican strategy be to appear the gallant defender trying to stop the predicted "train wreck" only to lose out in the end. This would absolve them of any guilt by association if the bill really is a train wreck.

    Don't know how well this would play in the "blue" states, but it should play well in the "red." But it would backfire if the ACA turns out to be bread and circuses.

  • Rhino||

    Today, i told my wife that the government might shut down tonight. She looked at me with an expression of horror and asked, "How is that going to affect us?"

    I told her, "Not at all."

  • Carolynp||

    You would think the Democrats might have learned this lesson after the sequester stupidity. What if the government closed down, and no one noticed?

  • Will Nonya||

    I actually think its a win-win for the democrats. If there is a shutdown they get the blame the GOP for the interruption in the dole, even if there really isn't one. Worst of all many people will believe it.

    If there isn't a shutdown its because they got what they wanted.

    The argument about the results of obamacare are valid but those too will be deflected. the worse part is that they will take time. In the meantime the supports in the liberal elite will tout the benefits because they won't experience any significant impact as a result. The poorest who already benefit from the dole will continue to support it because its a promise of greener pastures and them getting their 'due'.

    Even if Obamacare is a complete fiasco of unquestionable scale the democrats will deflect it. People are already spewing the lines about obamacare being a GOP/heritage foundation plan in an obvious attempt to pave the way and be in a position to take credit or cast blame as appropriate.

  • Carolynp||

    I already see the media deeply spinning this. Maybe people in general believe it's the fault of the GOP, but the polls aren't reflecting that. At present, the Dems are taking just as big a hit as the GOP. What if the ultimate outcome on this insanity is that no one believes the media any longer? You'd have to call that a GOP win.

  • Sevo||

    "What if the ultimate outcome on this insanity is that no one believes the media any longer? You'd have to call that a GOP win."

    Not sure it's a GOP win, but it'd certainly be a win.
    Reid is claiming the GOP 'holds a gun to his head'; shame they don't use a 2X4 to get his attention.

  • BMFPitt||

    They could have gotten the medical device tax repealed no problem without a shutdown.

    The shutdown might cost them a few dozen seats if this were an election year. As it is, voters have a short memory, so unless this gets drawn out for a long time and does big damage it'll be a small loss for them.

  • galedodgson||

    my friend's step-sister makes $83 hourly on the computer. She has been without a job for 5 months but last month her pay was $21487 just working on the computer for a few hours. blog here

    http://www.Works23.com

  • Micu George||

    Hmm ,interesting news referate !

  • California_red||

    GOP won't win because the media will paint them negatively. Plus, the continuing resolution increases the federal budget despite defunding the affordable care act. That's not a win for anybody. That's more reckless spending by big government statists in Washington. The fight to defund is a distraction to let them increase spending on their pet projects. A fight on the debt ceiling is what is needed for the sake of posterity.

  • Will Nonya||

    Perhaps we should just defund Washington. Maybe open a competition and see which states want to offer land for a new capitol.

  • Larrybud||

    The trainwreck that is Obamacare won't be noticed for a while, and it will be gradual. This isn't single payer, where we're all forced onto it at one time. At most, 10% of the population will be on it, and I have severe doubts as to how much of those people are part of a voting block.

    The people that supported this mess for the most part won't feel the pain until premiums start to rise they're knocked off their current insurance, longer delays to get procedures done, etc. This won't happen over night, and by then the Dems can come up with a new "solution" to "save" us, and that will be single payer.

    Make no doubt, that is the end goal.

  • Will Nonya||

    Oh I have no doubt. The only disagreement I have is that thanks to the mandate anyone who isn't on Medicaid falls under Obamacare.

  • dstarke||

    Problem with going ahead with ObamaCare is that any program that benefits a significant minority (even 10% or even if it disadvantages the majority)can't ever be repealed, it can only be "fixed". We all know the fixes become the bureaucratic nightmare that every other program of government becomes. The problem with this one is that it effects our health and is such a large part of the economy. That giant sucking sound you heard beginning this morning is your money paying for someone else's health care. Congratulations, sucker!

  • hollanderpetr||

    my co-worker's step-mother makes $63 every hour on the laptop. She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her pay check was $13317 just working on the laptop for a few hours. visit

    http://www.Works23.com

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