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Shutdown Countdown

Here we are, just hours away from a potential government shutdown. Over the weekend the House worked to advance the ball, but the same can't be said for the Senate. Democrats seem OK with a government shutdown. Should that worry the GOP and the American people?

On Friday, things went as predicted with 25 Senate Republicans voting with Democrats to invoke cloture on the continuing resolution. From there, Harry Reid was able to get an amendment passed which restored funding for ObamaCare. On a party-line vote, the Senate passed the CR with the funding for ObamaCare and sent it back to the House. Then the Senate went home.

Republicans in the House then picked up the ball and worked until the wee hours of the morning on Sunday to pass a resolution that would delay ObamaCare's individual mandate by one year and repeal the medical device tax associated with ObamaCare (which Democrats also oppose, by the way). That happened early Sunday morning. The entirety of Sunday elapsed … no action from the Senate. Monday morning rolled around … the Senate still wasn't in session. Finally Senate lawmakers returned at 2pm today, giving them just hours to come to a resolution and avert a shutdown. The Senate is expected to reject the House bill that would fund the government for a few months, while delaying the individual mandate by a year and repealing the 2.3% medical device tax. That sends things back to the House. Senate Democrats say that the only thing they will accept is a “clean” CR that funds the government. Period. End of story. Republicans are considering sending them another version of a CR that includes an amendment from Senator David Vitter that would eliminate ObamaCare subsidies for Congress and its staffers, putting Reid and Senate Democrats in a tight spot. Will Republicans blink?

As if they were playing a game of football, it seems as though Congress is now playing a game of time management with a government shutdown on the line. The Senate has been criticized heavily by conservatives over the fact that they didn't feel the need to work over the weekend. Clearly the issue of a government shutdown can't be THAT important, or they would have been in Washington every waking moment to try and figure this thing out. Instead, they were banking on this strategy of rolling in late Monday, handing the ball off to the Republicans and then leave them holding the ball when the clock strikes midnight. In the case of politics, whoever is left holding the ball is the one who gets the blame and Democrats seem completely intent on letting that be the Republican House.

Even Barack Obama showed little urgency (and no leadership) on the issue as he had time for golf over the weekend. Barack Obama has found plenty of time to pick up the phone and negotiate with Iran's leadership, he's found time for dialogue with Putin, but politicians in his own country do not get the same level of respect. A phone call to John Boehner or Republican leadership on this issue wasn't important enough to make his schedule. As Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post today: “The more the world pushes Barack Obama around, the more he pushes back at home. It reminds me of a Mort Sahl joke from the Cold War: Every time the Soviets lock up an American, we retaliate by locking up an American. And so Vladimir Putin and his evil spawn in Syria and Iran can mess with Obama all day long, but House Speaker John Boehner can’t get the time of day from him.”

In other words, it seems as though the Democrats are completely OK with a government shutdown. Why is this? Because they know that the Obama-mania media will do their bidding and blame it on the Republicans. Like the New York Times.

But you already knew that would happen, didn't you? You know that the real narrative is that it is the Democrats who won't budge. Why are conservatives the ones who must compromise our principles? If most Americans want less spending and don't want ObamaCare, why aren't Democrats being punished for pushing ideals that are counter to the wishes of the American people? As Senator Ted Cruz told Meet the Press yesterday, “What have the Democrats compromised on? Nothing. Zero.” Why is it just expected that it is always the Republicans who have to cave? I suppose it's because the Republicans generally have given in and showed that they will cave, lacking the spine or the courage to stand up for their principles and convictions. Maybe this time will be different.

Are Americans even paying attention to what is going on in Washington right now? I get the impression that most Americans have tuned Washington out, assuming that most of what happens is mired in incompetence. This perhaps explains why a new CNN poll finds that many Americans would describe Obama and Congress as “spoiled children” compared to “responsible adults.” But on the spoiled children scale, Republicans still fare the worst.

So if we wake up tomorrow and the government has shut down, will average Americans even notice? Well if you are one of the 800,000 non-essential government workers, then you likely will because you won't have to report to work. Perhaps the problem here is that Congress itself is considered “essential.” That label has come into question a lot lately. But Americans will find it difficult to procure a passport or secure a government-backed home mortgage. If you want to visit a national park, they will be closed. But Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments will still be made. Critical services like meat inspections and border patrol and air traffic control will still continue. Even enrollment in ObamaCare will still continue if the government shuts down!

There is not one person in Washington who wants the government to shut down. However, it is the Democrats' insistence on funding the train wreck that is ObamaCare that has put us in this position.