Not very, if David Harsanyi is correct. Harsanyi used to write for the Denver Post and I took a writing class from him several years ago. He referred to the newsroom at the Post – Denver’s liberal paper – as “the collective.” That brought a lot of laughs.
He says that Washington faces three more “cliffs” – the “debt ceiling” cliff, the “sequestration” cliff, and the “balanced budget” cliff. He thinks that the idea of shutting down the government over the debt ceiling cliff is getting some traction among some Republicans. Those saying so, however, are just issuing a trial balloon on the matter:
Pat Toomey, John Cornyn and other conservatives have said as much, though they’ve littered their shutdown statements with comforting modifiers, such as “partial” and “temporary,” to allay the fears of Americans, who apparently can’t fathom existence without the Department of Commerce.
He thinks such a move would “energize” the conservatives, and might be effective in forcing the White House into giving in to demands to cut spending. He quotes Ted Cruz, the new senator from Texas, who says that it worked the last time:
As recent Washington arrival Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pointed out, “we didn’t default on our debt” after the notorious 1995 shutdown battle between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. “And the result was balanced budgets — and some of the greatest fiscal responsibility we have seen in modern times from Congress — because fiscal conservatives stood together and said, ‘We need to be responsible.'”
I think Cruz needs to do a little homework on that “1995 shutdown.” Wikipedia notes that the alleged shutdown lasted 28 days, and didn’t affect hardly anyone: the shutdown “put non-essential government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services…” In the end, the House caved in, and government spending continued unabated.
Harsanyi thinks things are different now. Obama is still savoring the flavor of his reelection victory. He just forced the Republicans into giving him the largest tax increase in history. And he is a Marxist ideologue who could care less, especially now in his second term, about what the “clingers” think. Harsanyi also reminds us that John Boehner is no Newt Gingrich. Which isn’t saying very much as Gingrich folded like tissue paper after the 1995 shutdown.
Harsanyi instead thinks the Republicans should wait for the “budget crisis” cliff before trying to strong-arm the president.
A more politically opportune time would be to deal with this when the government’s general operating budget expires. Seeing as Senate Democrats have been unable to produce a budget for years — and not a single politician has voted for an Obama budget — Republicans have a case to make about responsible governing.
But that strategy hasn’t worked for years. Why would it work now? Harsanyi finally comes to the truth of the matter – if the Republicans force a shutdown it’s because they have no other options: “Without a shutdown – or the threat of one – Republicans have no other leverage to obtain anything useful from the White House.”