Smelling blood, Senate Democrats have counter-attacked Republicans which, after passing a budget in the House which did not include funding for Obamacare, appear to be taking the majority of the criticism for shutting down (15% of) the government (as I predicted in a previous blog post, along with many others).
It looks like I might have been wrong, however, in arguing against the House’s attempt at defunding Obamacare. If it has resulted in the Democrats over-playing their hand, as they appear to have done, then it might end up ultimately being a good thing.
Harry Reid has refused to accept Republican proposals to raise the debt ceiling until January 31st, open the government for six months, and continue spending at the 2011 sequestration levels, of $986.7 billion.
Democrats have gone from the ‘defensive’, resisting change to the status quo, to the ‘offensive’, attempting to alter it. Defending the status quo, rightly or wrongly, is usually seen as being more ethical. This is a major reason why the Republicans have been losing (although not as bad as might have been expected) the debate so far (as well as the media being heavily biased).
Democrats now want to roll back the sequester cuts, which both parties agreed to implement if the supercommittee established in the Budget Control Act failed to reach an agreement back in 2011. This would raise discretionary spending to $1.058 trillion.
Now the Democrats are, similarly to what the Republicans initially did, refusing to fund the government and threatening to have America reach default unless their demands are accepted.
Using Gore’s own language, Senate Democrats are ‘terrorists’, which is what he and many other Democrats have described Republicans as because of their tactics over defunding Obamacare (however, if the Republicans really were terrorists, Obama would at least negotiate with them…).
This move by the Democrats is either to genuinely secure higher spending, a Democrat goal, or it is part of a strategy allowing Republicans to more honourably drop their demands for Obamacare’s one year delay.
If the former, then the Democrats could soon see themselves blamed more for this impasse than Republicans. More Republicans will vote to keep the government shut down, and perhaps even to not raise the debt-ceiling, as they truly will now be on the right side. Thus, if the shit really does hit the fan, the Democrats will more likely be blamed, leading to increased Republican intransigence, which makes a worst case scenario more likely.
However, it could also be a clever strategy concocted by elements of both parties to allow the Republicans to save face during the negotiations at the last second. This move by the Democrats could allow the Republicans to leave the negotiations and say to the cameras that they tried doing what was best for America, defunding the egregious Obamacare, but that to ensure the welfare of Americans they have compromised (nor surrendered) to the Democrats, who also have dropped one of their demands.
Time will tell.