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Online sinkspur

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A Modest Bargain
« on: October 04, 2013, 11:16:29 AM »

A Modest Bargain

By The Editors
October 4, 2013

There’s no need for Republicans to panic. The government shutdown is not some kind of crisis for American governance (although it certainly does not count as best practices either), or for the party. It always seemed unlikely to produce major Democratic concessions, though, and it still does.

Conservatives should therefore calmly assess the options now available to them. As they do so, they should continue to advocate bills to fund portions of the government, such as the National Institutes of Health, countering the media/Democratic spin about Republicans’ intransigence.

Republicans could, alternatively, try to end the impasse by having the House pass a bill that funds the government while also including the Vitter amendment against the health benefits of congressmen and their employees. It would be hard for the Democrats, even with the assistance of the press, to stand for keeping the government shut down in the name of congressional compensation. If they folded, Republicans would score a p.r. win from the shutdown.

An alternative that appears to have the support of Speaker John Boehner is to negotiate a “grand bargain.” Republicans would get tax reform, entitlement reform including changes to Obamacare, and other desired reforms; Democrats would get something they want, such as temporary increases in spending above sequestered levels; and Congress would pair these policies with measures to fund the government and raise the debt limit.

The politics of this adventure seem impossible: The parties are just too far apart on these issues. We very much doubt that Democrats would accept any serious structural entitlement reform, such as premium support for Medicare or reducing the growth rate of initial Social Security benefits. The entitlement reforms they might accept aren’t worth the tax increases they would want in return.

A modest bargain makes more sense than a grand one. Democrats would get a temporary increase in spending, and in return Republicans would get a delay of the fine on people without health insurance. Depending on the amount of spending involved, that deal could be a good one for Republicans. It would be a successful act of resistance to the least popular part of an unpopular law, and would set a precedent for delaying or neutering other parts of the “law of the land” Democrats keep trying to insist is fixed in concrete. Democrats would probably resist, as many of them think the fines are central to the law’s operation. They might go along with it, however, if they are as confident as they claim to be that Obamacare is poised to become popular now that people are set to draw subsidies from it.

Of the options, the most promising seems to us to be the modest bargain, because the potential payoff — a delay in the mandate — would be more valuable than the Vitter amendment, and more likely than Democratic capitulation to a continued shutdown.

Wait it out; send the Democrats a government-opening bill that they would have a hard time blocking; or make a modest deal: Those seem to us to be the available options. In none of these cases would Republicans achieve a policy triumph for the ages. No strategy gets us there on this side of the next two elections. Any of them would be preferable to the current strategy of a lot of Hill Republicans, which appears to rely heavily on leaking negative comments about colleagues they dislike.


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Offline andy58-in-nh

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Re: A Modest Bargain
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2013, 11:57:40 AM »
As usual, National Review makes far more sense of the situation than the Wall Street Journal, which has by now consolidated its role as the voice of Big Government/Big Business Republican Progressivism.

There is indeed, no reason for House Republicans to panic. There is every reason not to.

John Boehner may be eager to cut a deal and thus preserve his political viability, or so he appears to believe. But the more time that goes by in the current slowdown, the more leverage Republicans are likely to achieve. 

The messy, not-ready-for-primetime roll out of ObamaCare is playing out to a larger audience with each passing day. And with each passing day, two other things will become increasingly evident: first, that much of the work the Federal government has aggregated unto itself is unnecessary, wasteful, and to the average American, invisible by its absence.

If 90-95% of a Federal agency's labor is "non-essential", then why are we suffered to pay so many billions of our own hard-earned dollars for it?

Qui bono?
Washington, D.C., that's who benefits, in a system of governance that increasingly resembles not the one envisioned by our Founders, but the one that crumbled while Nero played his fiddle.

Secondly, the only pain felt as a result of the slowdown will be revealed as a direct consequence of the Obama Administration's own efforts to cause it, intentionally. Let our very own Nero (Barack Obama The First) bluster and campaign, taunt and accuse. It's what he does best. It's all he does, in point of fact.

The GOP should seize the occasion to demand a reasonable delay in implementing ObamaCare's worst features (including the Congressional carve-out) while pursuing meaningful and fiscally responsible budgetary reforms, including entitlements whose automatic annual funding increases are mathematically and demographically unsustainable. They will not get it all now, nor likely much, but they need to begin making their case to the public.

As to the debt ceiling, there are also cards yet to be played. There will be no "default", as irresponsibly threatened by the Democrats; by law, all debt service on outstanding obligations must be paid first, and there is plenty of money in the Treasury for that. The question ought to be presented as one of by how much and for how long to increase the current ceiling, contingent on an acceptance of reforms that will make such future increases more rare and ultimately, unnecessary.

While the nation hurtles headlong toward the edge of a fiscal precipice, Democrats pretend (a) that the cliff does not exist, and (b) that they are "compromising" by not stepping on the gas as hard as they would otherwise. 

It's time for the GOP to grab the wheel.
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