So, we’ve been “shut down” (meaning not everybody is funded and working) for two days now.
The media, of course, is losing its little minds over this affair, but let’s put this in perspective: the “shutdown” isn’t important, except insofar as those Republicans who aren’t wholly-owned subsidiaries of Wall Street intend to remind the country, and particularly the Beltway Bandits, of Constitution 101. Aka, the House controls spending. What gets spent, and on how much is directly controlled by the House, as an additional layer of defense both against executive usurpation, and against tyrannical laws which can’t be enforced without the lifeblood of currency.
That’s not really what this is about, however. If it were, President Obama wouldn’t have laid down the “not going to negotiate” marker in public over a month ago.
The President laid down that marker because the debt-limit ceiling is upon us again, and he desperately needs political fortune to be blowing in his direction as he goes into it, especially after the debacle he suffered with Syria. He needs to win something in order to have any leverage in the upcoming “what do we negotiate on the debt ceiling fight,” and right now, he’s got nothing. All the Republicans have to do is say “same deal as last time,” and the Democrats suffer “cuts” across the board which are inherently painful, and which will truly hurt the Democratic coalition if it goes through, by forcing Team Blue to pick between which of its various constituents get to feed at the public trough — there won’t be enough money for all of them to do it, especially with the massive giveaway to the insurance companies, err, um, public health insurance, that Reid and Obama are defending.
Remember, a battle is where both sides throw the dice, because both sides think they’re the ones who will win.
The Republicans don’t care about a short-term break in non-essential services (outside of a few truly worthy things like NIH etc), if it demonstrates that They Mean Business when it comes to the debt ceiling.
The Democrats believe that if they can paint the Republicans, and especially the Tea Party types, as out-of-control radicals, that the public will back Team Blue when it comes to the Real Battle of determining how much debt the US is able to take on. And this has extra ramifications — if the US can’t grow its debt, Ben Bernanke and the Fed will be forced to quit with their Quantitative Easing program (they can’t buy up debt which the government isn’t issuing, after all), thus resulting in the Wall Street stock bubble that it fuels going POP, and everybody’s pensions and portfolios taking a huge hit right before the 2014 elections.
Make no mistake, this is live-or-die, bareknuckled politics going on. But it’s taking part in a larger context than the media bobbleheads will talk about.