Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Path Forward

House Republicans voted down a proposal to pass a "clean" continuing resolution (CR), i.e., one that doesn't call for delaying/defunding the Affordable Care Act, i.e., "Obamacare." The shutdown continues. Some Congressional Republicans claim the shutdown is no big deal, and have started calling it a government "slim down," a phrase being parroted by conservative news outlets and talk radio. It's far from that. It degrades important government functions, damages the economy, and hurts the government workers who have been sent home.

But rather than talk about why this shutdown is such a terrible thing, let's talk about what can be done about it.

Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. They've bragged to their TEA Party base about standing on principle, and pissed off a lot of other people by shutting down the government. Now they feel they can't just back away from the shutdown (which was, after all, a bargaining chip) without getting something for their efforts (misguided as they may have been).

"We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)

Republicans have been pushing for a delay in the implementation of Obamacare, they've tried passing a CR defunding Obamacare, and they've tried piece-mealing reopening some facets/functions of government like National Parks and the VA (an obvious ploy to make Democrats look bad).

None of this has worked.

What might work?

Back room negotiations in which the Democrats agree to formation of a bipartisan panel to review implementation of Obamacare and make recommendations for changes, in exchange for a clean CR from the Republican-led House, plus an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

Republicans could attach other requirements to future legislation that helps ensure Democrats and the President will seriously consider the panel's recommendations, and not just let them stagnate until 2016.

Right now, Republicans aren't offering anything that Democrats could agree to, and sitting at a table across from empty seats where non-negotiating Democrats aren't sitting, ain't gonna cut it.

No comments: