We’ve reached that time of the year again. Government shutdown appears imminent, with the rest of the day all that remains for political leaders to pass legislation to continue funding the government. If that doesn't happen, expect national parks to close down, federal employees — including the military — to see delays in their pay checks and benefits and the stock market to likely wobble.
The main reason for the looming shutdown is the coming implementation of the Affordable Care Act. With the premium exchanges set to go up tomorrow, House and Senate Republicans have fought the implementation tooth and nail to the point where the House GOP is willing to shutdown the government instead of providing funding for the act.
This event has of course evoked strong response from both sides of the political spectrum, with those on the left calling for the GOP to “grow up” and accept that the bill is here to stay and calls from the right about stopping the “fiscally irresponsible ” health care reform.
“Yes, defaulting on the U.S. debt would be worse than shutting down the government. But both represent such recklessly, breathtakingly, wastefully irresponsible derelictions of leadership that the people who run this town ought to be ashamed of themselves if either comes to pass,” claims the Washington Post editorial board. “ Republican Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, caving to a few dozen backbenchers who would rather blow things up than govern, has insisted that any such bill contain Obamacare poison pills that neither the Senate nor President Obama will accept.”
The New York Times editorial board criticizes Reppublican attempts to pass of their “amendments to the temporary spending resolution, which would put the health reform law on hold for a year and repeal a tax on medical devices,” as a ‘“a peaceable offer’ to the Senate, a helpful compromise.”
Instead, they say that the Republican attempts in the House to defund the bill are done in full knowledge that “these outrageous conditions for keeping the government open stand no chance in the Senate when it reconvenes on Monday just hours before government funding runs out at midnight.”
But to some, the risks of the ACA far outweigh the risks of defunding the federal government.
“Allowing ObamaCare's entitlements to take hold would overshadow any of the savings already secured by the sequester,” says Michael Needman, writing in the USA Today. “Our nation cannot afford ObamaCare. Yet, starting on Tuesday, Americans will begin signing up for the costly ObamaCare exchanges. Congress has an opportunity to act before it is too late. Fiscal responsibility starts with defunding ObamaCare.”
And while many seek to explain the political bonus each side could potentially gain from a shutdown, Nate Cohn at the New Republic concludes after looking at historical evidence that it likely won’t bring about any major gain or long-term benefit for either side. “The belief that a shutdown would be an electoral disaster for Republicans is steeped in Clinton-era political mythology. According to legend, the 1995-1996 shutdown put President Clinton on a pathway to re-election; the ’98 impeachment proceedings gave Democrats gains in the House. But the myth crumbles under scrutiny. Yes, polls said that the public blamed Republicans for the 1995-1996 shutdown. Yet there’s not much evidence that voters punished Republicans at the ballot box. Democrats only gained a net-2 seats in the House, despite many opportunities among freshman Republicans elected in the GOP wave of 1994. Democrats lost two Senate seats.”