As the country shuffles into week two of the government shutdown, not much has changed in the 160-plus hours since a number of government agencies and services ground to a halt. The House and Senate seem no closer to finding a long-term–or even temporary–budget resolution, and to top it off, the U.S. is just 10 days away from entering into default unless Congress can agree to a debt-ceiling increase.
Much of the showdown, of course, is a result of House Republicans quixotically rallying around a plan to delay or defund President Obama’s healthcare law. The president has said that he was willing to negotiate with the GOP, but that the government must reopen first. Obama has called for a debt-limit increase without any conditions, but GOP leaders have refused to budge unless specific spending reductions are put in play in exchange for a debt-limit hike.
As week two begins, here are a few tactics that conservatives might employ this week.
1. Boehner will continue to declare he doesn’t have enough votes
House Speaker John Boehner said this weekend he did not have enough votes in the lower chamber of Congress to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government without the provision to delay or defund Obamacare. Yet, by several counts and due to a number of House Republicans willing to pass it, there do seem to be enough votes to greenlight a so-called “clean” resolution in the House. President Obama has criticized Boehner for cowering to the Tea Party and urged the House to simply “Take a vote.”
2. GOP: We are putting options on the table!
Republicans are putting forth piecemeal budget votes in an attempt to offer symbolic funding to public services like the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and child nutrition and development programs. But Democrats see the moves as gimmicks merely to shift blame away from the GOP. The Senate has already vowed to block such measures, asking instead for a plan to fund the entire government at sequester levels.
3. GOP: The Dems are being stubborn, not us!
Republicans will likely try to continue to hammer the message that it’s the Democrats’ fault for refusing to negotiate. Boehner on Sunday warned on ABC’s This Week that the nation is headed toward default, saying “That’s the path we’re on.” He said to end it, all Obama has to do is start negotiating. “He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call.” If only it were that easy.
But…Democrats have tried–many times–to negotiate on the budget before Boehner decided to head off the cliff at the 11th hour with his most conservative caucus over Obamacare (which opened Oct. 1 even as the government shut down). And Democrats made a big compromise by agreeing to sequester-level cuts in the stopgap budget solution that Boehner now says is impossible to pass.
4. Is default really such a bad thing?
Some Republicans seem to be in denial, insisting default wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Take Republican Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida. “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke,” Yoho told the Washington Post. To not raise the debt ceiling, Yoho said, “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.” Other GOPers are downplaying a potential default. Of course, a default could be catastrophic in that it would almost certainly undermine the position of the U.S. in the global economy.
5. Obama voted against a debt ceiling once!
Some Republicans, including Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, have been quick to point out that Obama, as a senator, once voted against an increase in the debt ceiling. Obama argued he was protesting the deficits racked up by then President George W. Bush for funding war and greenlighting tax cuts. As Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast says: ”Democrats made no threats when they cast their votes. They knew they were going to lose and had no real intention of winning…They were in the minority; duh.”