Negotiating the US Government Shutdown
October 3, 2013 11 Comments
Congress doesn’t want to negotiate, even after holding meetings on Wednesday. Now, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein says we have “precedent for a government shutdown” but “no precedent for default.” The stakes are growing.
Mitt Romney opposes the shutdown–illustrating the split within the Republican Party. But in political terms, who is winning/losing in the standoff ? The players are two groups of Republicans (Party Leaders + Tea Party rebels) and two groups of Democrats (Senate majority + President Obama). On the conservative side, the NYT provides a who’s who graphic worth seeing the players.
In tactical terms, some Tea Party Republicans see their position as a winning one:
Mr. King is part of a hard-core group of about two dozen or so of the most conservative House members who stand in the way of a middle path for Mr. Boehner that could keep most of his party unified while pressuring the Senate to compromise. Their numbers may be small, but they are large enough to threaten the speaker’s job if he were to turn to Democrats to pass a spending bill that reopened the government without walloping the health law. Their strategy is to yield no ground until they are able to pass legislation reining in the health care law; if the federal government stays closed, so be it.
And they believe they are winning.
“It’s getting better for us,” said Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho. “The moment where Republicans are least popular is right when the government shuts down. But when the president continues to say he’s unwilling to negotiate with the American people, when Harry Reid says he won’t even take things to conference, I don’t think the American people are going to take that too kindly.”
While others, such as Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IND) observes “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t even know what that even is.”
What are the larger issues here? Is it ok to play this parliamentary tactic to support someone’s ideological position (opposition to Obamacare) or to support one’s base (shrink government by any means necessary). Thomas Friedman writes in this must-read column that what is at stake is our democratic system of majority rule through three steps that led the US to this point:
- gerrymandering of Congressional districts (ensuring Republican dominance)
- the Supreme Court Citizens United case adding unprecedented money to politics, creating forces of nature (e.g., Sheldon Adelson)
- the “rise of a separate G.O.P. (and a liberal) media universe” that leads to myopic and self-reinforcing media
This is the political-econ negotiation of the century:
Obama faces classic problem in game theory of bargaining – convincing other side of the costs to you of backing down j.mp/1bwd60B
Is this a teachable moment for the world or how to they view the US shutdown? The debating program Intelligence Squared shared this today on Facebook: