Will 16 days of shutdown change anything?

If lawmakers can't work out their differences, they risk repeat shutdown in January
Associated Press
Oct 20, 2013

Sixteen days in October could change everything, or not much at all.

Will the partial government shutdown prove to be the turning point after three years of partisan skirmishing in Washington? Or was it just a halftime show to fire up the players?

With federal employees back at work for now, lawmakers are getting a chance to find a compromise on spending cuts and settle their vast differences. If they fail, they risk a repeat shutdown in mid-January, followed a few weeks later by the recurring danger of the government defaulting on its debts.

A look at where things stand after the shutdown:

THE PLAYERS

—President Barack Obama won a round by refusing to back down. The public didn't applaud his handling of the crisis, but scored congressional Republicans even lower. Obama's overall approval rating held steady, and so did the nation's divided opinion of his health care law. He strengthened his hand for next time.

—House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded a loss for his party. But personally he came out OK. Boehner placated his boisterous tea party-backed members by letting them take a doomed stand against the health law, then got credit for finally allowing the shutdown to end on mostly Democratic votes.

—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made a name for himself by leading the tea party charge toward shutdown. About half of the respondents in a recent Associated Press-GfK poll knew enough about Cruz to form an opinion — impressive for a senator elected less than a year ago. The bad news for Cruz? Their opinion was negative by a 2-1 margin.

—Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is catching heat for helping reopen the government. McConnell agrees with many of his fellow GOP senators that the shutdown was bad strategy and must not be repeated. That puts him on the wrong side of the party's tea party wing, and a tea party-backed candidate is challenging McConnell in the primary for his Senate seat.

TEA PARTY

The tea party, billed as a movement of the people, is getting slammed in national polls. Democrats say its belligerent tactics have been discredited. Much of the Republican establishment agrees.

Tea party lawmakers don't care.

Tea party favorites in Congress are more focused on the opinions of voters back home, their big money supporters and outside groups, such as Heritage Action, that influence elections.

Cruz, criticized by many fellow Republicans for fomenting the standoff, says he's content to be "reviled in Washington, D.C., and appreciated in Texas."

Cruz says he remains as determined as ever.

"I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can," he said, "to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare."

BIG VERSUS SMALL GOVERNMENT

Did Americans learn anything from the partial shutdown?

Obama says it showed just how many things, large and small, the government does to help people.

Conservatives saw the opposite lesson — that federal workers can disappear without being missed.

There's some evidence for both ideas.

Lots of people were inconvenienced and some lives were seriously disrupted, but most Americans weren't personally touched by the shutdown. Less than one-third said someone in their home was affected, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Oct. 7-9.

That doesn't mean they shrugged off the effects beyond their front door.

About two-thirds in that poll felt the shutdown was harming the economy. Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in more than a year, according to Gallup polling.

THE ECONOMY

Forget turkey dinners and sleigh bells in the snow. Washington's new tradition is scaring holiday shoppers.

Last year politicians slowed sales by hanging the threat of a "fiscal cliff" over the holiday season, before working out a deal in the new year.

This year, the government shutdown already has taken a toll. Economists and Standard & Poor's estimate that it cost the economy $24 billion, or about $75 for every U.S. resident.

Consumers may stay worried, especially if they hear bad news from Republican and Democratic lawmakers who are meeting over the next two months in hopes of reaching a spending deal to avert another fiscal standoff in January.

AMERICA'S IMAGE

Sure, it's embarrassing. America's image took a hit. Other countries are snickering.

Obama says the latest spectacle depressed the nation's friends and heartened its enemies. But it shouldn't have surprised them much. The world has witnessed three years of stalemates and standoffs between Democrats and Republicans since the GOP won control of the House in 2010.

In the long view, the U.S. reputation, and especially its appeal for investors, doesn't dent easily. After all, where else can the world park its money? Treasury bonds have scant competition as the safest place to stash reserves.

The latest brouhaha should fade quickly because it stopped short of the feared outcome — a default on Treasury bonds that would tarnish their spotless image.

If that threat remerges in January, the world will be watching.

HEALTH CARE LAW

Conservatives again failed to drive a stake through the heart of "Obamacare."

Indeed, the health law may have been strengthened by their latest attack.

The government shutdown was designed as a megaphone for critics of the law, but their timing was off. The uproar ended up distracting the public from the bungled rollout of a key portion of the health program — the website people use to shop for insurance.

Despite computer problems that are keeping many would-be customers from signing up, overall impressions of the health care law have held steady in polls.

That doesn't mean the law is popular. It remains controversial, with Americans just as likely to say it was a bad idea as a good one.

Boehner says when it comes to defeating "Obamacare," Republicans won't give up.

 

Comments

kURTje

"Vote for me and I'll set you free!" (Temptations/Ball of Confusion) Cruz could say that also.

The Big Dog's back

I hope cruz runs. Automatic Dem victory.

Mommy25

I'd vote for Cruz in half of an instant and I hope he runs too.

grumpy

Another line from the song

Politicians say more taxes
will solve everything...
and the band played on.

http://www.sing365.com/music/lyr...

Something Cruz wouldn't say... but all the dems in congress would shout to the heavens. Thanks for the reminder of what the song actually says.

cracked

It made me hate the tea party more.

Darwin's choice

So, you're happy with the failure of Obama? Democrats......

Contango

Re: "lawmakers are getting a chance to find a compromise on spending cuts and settle their vast differences."

As a start:

Dust off and debate the recommendations from the "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform" (Simpson-Bowles) which Pres. Obama commissioned and then totally ignored.

This country can no longer allow the tax, borrow, print and spend Progressives to keep running up the unfunded charges on the country's credit card just to score political points.

Even Sen. Durbin (D-IL) is FINALLY seeing the light:

“Social Security is gonna run out of money in 20 years,”

“The Baby Boom generation is gonna blow away our future. We don’t wanna see that happen.”

http://www.sanfranciscosentinel....

Dr. Information

This country can no longer allow the tax, borrow, print and spend Progressives to keep running up the unfunded charges on the country's credit card just to score political points.

Contago. Yes they can and yes they will continue to until it really starts to hit home with the majority of working people. Where do you hurt people the most? Financially. When more people have to start forking out more for healthcare under the ACA and cannot get a full time job and bring home less, eventually people will see that this current scheme isn't working nor will it ever.

Contango

Re: "Yes they can and yes they will continue,"

Understood.

It's an "incentive trap."

You're responsible for a portion of the monthly min. payment even though you personally have not charged anything on the "credit card."

There is NO incentive for anyone NOT to charge, since we all get to pay a portion of the bill regardless.

This morning:

"Treasury yields will still spike to 5%: Societe Generale"

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101127745

Interest costs on the payment of the debt WILL eventually rise, "when" is anyone's guess.

The world is getting tired of helping to fund our extravagance and the rates on the govt. charge card will rise.

Dr. Information

The world is getting tired. Why is it that places like China and Japan are dumping the American dollar for hard assets?

The Feds think they have the ball by fluctuating the interest to historic lows to keep us from really defaulting but lets say the rates go up to 4% or 6%. Over a 30 year period, like a mortgage loan, this nation would be on the hook for 40-60 TRILLION dollars owed.

I know there are a few uneducated people who think that going to a world currency is the solution, but these people do not understand that the US dollar currently IS the world currency and if that goes, so does our ways of living.

Contango

Re: "The Feds think they have the ball by fluctuating the interest to historic lows,"

A "trick" concocted during the Clinton Admin.

Use short-term debt to run the govt. Works until it doesn't.

That's what "blew up" Lehman Bros.: Borrowing short-term to fund long-term debt.

W. Buffett:

"Buffett Calls Fed History’s Greatest Hedge Fund"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20...

Many analysts believe that the Fed will eventually lose control of interest rates.

donutshopguy

Why is SS going to run out of money? Because politicians saw a pot of gold and borrowed from it. Couldn't keep their hands off a retirement mechanism that the general public has been forced to pay into for their whole working lives.

The whole bunch are crooks.

Contango

Re: "Why is SS going to run out of money?"

The Ponzi scheme has ALREADY run outa money.

The securities in the "SS Trust Fund" are non-marketable and only redeemable by the U.S. Tres'y.

It's a double counting fiction.

They are "in effect" IOUs.

http://www.uschamber.com/issues/...

If a private entity ran this type of financial scam, the feds would be all over 'em and the officers would be prosecuted, fined and/or imprisoned for fraud and financial malfeasance.

Remember: Bernie Madoff was a big Democrat contributor. :)

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn...

OMG.LOL.WT_

In spite of SS "ponzi", horrible debt, and trickery by the fed, it amazes me we still have billions to give away to foreign countries.

Darwin's choice

Ding ding ding!!!!! Winner!

Dr. Information

Just wait till January. Democrats and Obama will be crying again to raise the debt ceiling.