Shutdown Day 2: the Next Step

The government shutdown is in full swing.  Yesterday, the President gave a Rose Garden speech dismantling the merits of compromise.

Not surprisingly, America went humming along without many hiccups.  In reality, most of America’s hiccups occurred because of the massive failure of Obamacare day one.  Sure, non-essential services are temporarily shut down and furloughed federal workers are getting the unfair brunt of the President’s grandstanding, but Republicans can still achieve a major victory in this fight.

Republicans must wait this out.  It could last a month or two months.  This is the hardest part because politicians are expected to always be doing something.  Obama is an island, he can be as stubborn as he wants.  But Congress is a herd of cats with both strong and squishy members.  Many Republicans are going to look to capitulate here.  Furloughed workers are going to be too much for them.  But we must remember that Republicans have passed over three Continuing Resolutions that completely fund the 800k furloughed workers, passports offices and national parks.  The refusal to fund these programs lies with Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Many republicans have given up on victory and are now searching for a way to “save face.”  Thus, we are going to hear more about meaningless figleafs like the medical device tax and the Vitter Amendment.  Those are consolation prizes but they aren’t reasons go toe-to-toe with a President willing to let the government shutdown.

In actuality, the timing of this fight benefits republicans because the debt ceiling debate is 16 days away.  There is no reason why borrowing more money on behalf of Obama cannot become another card for Republicans to play against this President during this shutdown fight.

First, Republicans must now stop offering weak CR’s coupled with measures like the Vitter Amendment.  Republicans bent over backwards to compromise with Senate Democrats and the Senate spat in their collective face.  The President has taken us to war.  For all of his talk of brinksmanship, it turns out he is the ultimate showman.  Republicans must now fall back on their strongest hand – defund Obamacare coupled with a clean CR.  This is the greatest hand they have, and they can now offer the President an increase in the borrowing limit as well which could allow him to save face after his aggressive attacks yesterday.

It is important for Republicans to negotiate from a place of strength and not of weakness.  The starting position entering negotiations must be a total one-year defund.  THIS IS A COMPROMISE in and of itself.  This leaves the House Republican caucus room to maneuver and extract something like a one or two year delay of the individual mandate.  This is not out of reach.  It allows for full funding and for the “kinks” to be worked out of the exchanges.  This is an imminently possible strategy going forward.

Republicans must not break.  Breaking now could give Barack Obama his John Kennedy moment where he forced the steel industry to cave.  This president’s legacy is at stake, he can only do this so long.  He can stump all he wants, but it is House republicans who have proven over and over again of being capable of compromising under these circumstances.  Republicans must now hang together, for we all know the alternative.