We are in Day Two of the government shutdown. I’ve been asked by several people – when will it end? Almost nobody is going to like my answer. The short answer is this stalemate is going to go on for some time. Currently, there’s nothing that is pushing the two sides to negotiate.
I can tell you that President Obama is not going to give up the signature piece of legislation from his first term. That simply isn’t going to happen. To be honest, why should he? The Affordable Care Act was a long and drawn-out tap dance in which President Obama ignored the far left wing of his party and, by some accounts, continued to reach out to conservatives even when it was clear they were not negotiating in good faith. Remember that Senator Bill Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, both Democrats, who single-handedly held up the progress for days trying to extract personal goodies for their own states.
Progressives basically wanted the whole insurance system, which seems to add no value to the healthcare system, scrapped and replaced with something like Medicare for All. The president, having an abundance of caution, didn’t want to take on the whole insurance industry and therefore, from the outset, he told the insurance industry and other manufacturers that a single-payer system is off the table. Progressives were furious.
From the Republican side of things, I just don’t see where there is any impetus for them to back down from their outrageous demands. In my opinion, the only thing is to push them back to the table in a groundswell of outrage, not from the American people, but from Wall Street. It’s only when Wall Street begins to threaten to remove campaign funding that Republicans will come back to the negotiating table. When it is clear that the economy is hurting and our GDP is tanking, then and only then will Wall Street truly put Republicans in a vise and force them to stop this craziness.
We all must remember that there are not one but two hurdles to overcome. The first is the fact that we haven’t passed a budget. That is why the government has shut down. But, we have another hurdle coming up and that is the debt ceiling. I know that President Obama and the Democrats have no desire to go through this exact same scenario again; therefore, any deal that the Democrats cut Republicans now must include a deal with the debt ceiling. Republicans, on the other hand, are going to be reluctant to make some grand bargain which removes both of their major leverage points.
Guys, buckle up, this is going to take a while.