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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

Auerbach smoking a cigar behind Bill Russel after winning the 1966 NBA Finals. (Via Wikimedia Commons)
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Opinion: What We Can Learn From This Shutdown

Finally, on Oct. 17, President Obama signed a deal passed by Congress to end the 16-day government shutdown. After a long political standoff that kept global market workers on the edge of their seats, President Obama signed the deal that saved the world’s largest market from the brink of a complete debt default.

The main debate between the Republicans and Democrats was over Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans were adamant about changing it for any deal to be possible. In the end, Obamacare was left relatively unscathed.

Recently, however, the Affordable Care Act took a blow when the House saw an unprecedented shift with 39 Democrats supporting a Republican bill proposed by Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would allow health insurers to continue selling plans that were canceled under Obamacare. It is unlikely that the bill will pass through the Democratic-led Senate.

As a response to the Upton bill, House Democrats are proposing a change that would address President Obama’s unfulfilled promise that people who like their current insurance plans will be able to keep them. They are calling this alternative plan “Landrieu-Lite.” This new plan would allow individuals to keep their current plans for a year, but not permanently.

There is a clear issue with what has happened with the Upton bill and the “Landrieu-Lite” bill. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have proposed these bills to appease their constituents for the upcoming 2014 midterm election. A majority of the House democrats who support the Upton bill are moderates facing difficult re-election bids. These politicians should not be purely focused on their reelection bids; they need to do their jobs and to do what is right for the people. However, neither “Landrieu-Lite” nor the Upton bill will gather enough votes in both the House and Senate to pass, I certainly do not think that Obama will let the Upton Bill through, and I definitely do not think that the 2/3 vote to bypass Obama’s veto can be garnered.

One of the issues with the stopgap budget deal that Congress passed is that the government may continue its regular spending until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, and then this economic crisis will resurface. The deal did not solve any of the long-term issues facing the nation.

In order to avoid replaying this fiasco, we must look at both sides.

President Obama politely said in his weekly address after the deal was struck, “There were no winners in this.”

But if anything was made clear from the deal, it was this: Obama and the Democrats won. The government reopened, Obamacare remained completely intact, and the liberals had to make few concessions.

 The lesson that they learned from this was that toughness works. When Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated over the debt ceiling in 2011, Obama lost, both in the eyes of voters and in the eyes of his fellow Democrats. Now, when Obama refuses to negotiate over the debt ceiling, he win.

 This does not mean that the Democrats will refuse to negotiate the next time it comes around? This was merely to prove to everyone that “we were not going to engage with a gun pointed to our head,” said a White House aide to the Los Angeles Times. Refusal to negotiate “was only a tactic; it wasn’t a basic principle.”

After showing that they will not be pushed around, the Democrats hope that when budget talks restart they will have a better initial bargaining position than before.

The Republicans also learned a major lesson from this: government shutdowns do not work in their favor.

“We don’t need to shut down the government for another 17 years,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) to the National Journal.

 Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), the Senate Republican leader who negotiated the stopgap deal, believes that the lesson learned was that government shutdowns end badly for Republicans. He expressed this through an old adage, “There’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” said Sen. McConnell to the magazine National Review. “The first kick of the mule was in 1995; the second one was the last 16 days. A government shutdown is off the table. We’re not going to do it.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) shared the same mindset as Sen. McConnell. He even cited the same adage. “There’s nothing to be learned from the second kick of the mule,” said Sen. Corker to the National Journal. “Maybe there’s been a little bit of an education.”

 This is not an attitude held by all Republicans. Some hardliners believe that their party was not tough enough.

 “It was an incredible victory” at first, said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a radio interview on the Mark Levin Show, until moderate Senate republicans turned into an “air force bombing its own troops.”

The main lesson for House republicans was that they need clearer, more realistic objectives for the future.

This leaves our government in an interesting situation for the next budget battle in January. There most likely will not be a big bargain, a trading of republican goals of cutting welfare spending for Democratic goals of increasing tax revenue. With an upcoming election year in 2014, it is unlikely we will see dramatic concessions made by either side. Neither side is willing to risk straying from their respective ideologies. The most likely outcome will be similar to the one we have just experience, only with less drama: kicking the can down the road, leaving the issue to be fully dealt with in the future.

Even though this seems like another unproductive edition of the 113th Congress we have come to know, one which epitomizes the concept of gridlock, even a stopgap solution that ends the government shut down for the time being can be seen as a minor victory in a shadow of dysfunction.

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