government shutdown

Some thoughts on the looming government shutdown

It looks like we’re only 10 to 12 hours away from a shut down of the federal government. Neither side has come to an agreement on what the final budget bill would look like, though it looks like another Continuing Resolution – a measure that would carry over spending from the previous year for a specified amount of time – will be taken up in the Senate. It passed the House yesterday with some Democratic members support it (Georgia Dems John Barrow and Sanford Bishop were among the affirmative votes).

Here are some thoughts and observations on the possible shutdown:

- If Republicans make this about social issues, as it is being suggested they are, they will take a hit. Republicans are right to object to taxpayer funding of abortion. However, social issues are not on the mind of the electorate. This angle, as principled as it may be, is a political loser. The focus should be on how Democrats and President Barack Obama cannot find any program worth cutting at a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion deficit.

- Republicans holding out for $31 billion in spending cuts is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. As my good friend Doug Mataconis said today, wasting political capital on a short-term budget solution is pretty dumb. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) just presented an ambitious, though intriguing, budget plan that is going to take an enormous amount of political will and capital to push through, even if there are compromises along the way. Not to mention that the current budget fix only takes us through the end of the current fiscal year. The 2012 budget battle is next up and the ground work is just being laid into place.

Republicans must not surrender to Obama’s blackmail

Notwithstanding the landslide rejection of Obama and his policies in the mid-term election, I don’t think this will produce big changes in policy over the next two years.

Simply stated, the GOP does not have the votes to override presidential vetoes, so there’s no plausible strategy for achieving meaningful tax reform or genuine entitlement reform.

Sequester Cuts

But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be important fiscal policy battles. I’m especially worried about whether we can hold on to the modest fiscal restraint(and sequester enforcement) we achieved as part of the 2011 debt limit fight.

Part of that victory was already negotiated away as part of the Ryan-Murray budget deal, to be sure, but there are still remaining budget caps that limit how fast politicians can increase so-called discretionary spending.

According to the Congressional Research Service, budget authority for defense is allowed to rise from $552 billion in 2014 to $644 billion in 2021. And budget authority for domestic programs is allowed to climb from $506 billion to $590 billion over the same period.

Nobody really remembers the government shutdown

Government Shutdown

Remember the partial government shutdown last year? Good times, at least for the people that wanted to know exactly what would happen if even a fair amount of government money went out of play. You know, what would happen if we had even a slightly smaller government?

Well, in spite of the Democrats claiming that it would lead to the end of all the things, that didn’t exactly happen. In fact, with the exception of the dramas created by Obama himself (remember the barriers they paid employees to put up in the National Mall?), things really didn’t change all that much. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, the shutdown really didn’t bother very many people at all:

Just after the shutdown was over last October, 67% said it had a negative impact on the economy, and only 19% felt it had no impact.

But in terms of their own lives, 82% of voters view the impact of the shutdown as small at best, with 37% who say it was minor and 45% who say the shutdown had no impact on them at all. Only 12% say the shutdown had a major personal impact. This is unchanged from a year ago.

Still, 72% think the shutdown never should have happened. Three percent (3%) say it lasted too long, while 20% say it didn’t last long enough.

Liberal Hypocrisy Exposed Over Gov. Christie Bridge-Gate

Republican Governor Chris Christie is under intense fire this week after revelations that members of his staff, apparently in retaliation against Fort Lee (NJ) Mayor Mark Sokolich for his failure to endorse Christie’s re-election, shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge in order to cause a massive traffic jam, and massive headaches for the mayor.

First of all, let me just say that, if Christie had any prior knowledge of, or gave direction/approval for, the lane shutdowns, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent that the law allows. Those of his staff who participated in this blatant abuse of power should also be prosecuted regardless, knowing full well that this was not only illegal but potentially unsafe.

Having said that, I must also shake my head at the stunning hypocrisy of the liberal left and their media compadres and lapdogs, who now shake their fists in outrage at this abuse and call for firings and prosecutions, even as they pretend to be oblivious of, or even worse, actually defend, greater and more numerous abuses of power by Obama and his corrupt administration.

Or have we so quickly forgotten what Obama did during the recent government shutdown, with the stated purpose of making the shutdown as painful and miserable as possible for the American people in order to spark outrage against Republicans, who had the audacity to not roll over and play dead on Obama’s command, and give him unlimited deficit spending and ObamaCare exemptions as he demanded.

Ted Cruz: Sorry I’m not sorry

In an interview that aired yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) stood by the “defund Obamacare” strategy and blamed President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for the impasse that led to the government shutdown in October.

Much of the interview focused on the unusual way in which Cruz has been able to gain influence and his relationship with House conservatives. But the key comments came when ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who conducted the interview, asked the Texas senator if he thought that his tactics were a mistake in hindsight.

“I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown,” Cruz said, adding later the media was largely responsible for the belief that Republicans shutdown the federal government.”

Karl was openly contemptuous of Cruz’s comments, telling him that the “only reason why this happened is because you insisted.” But the Texas conservative, who was in contention for Time’s Person of the Year, wouldn’t waiver, despite criticism from his fellow Republicans and political pundits.

Budget deadline approaches, some sequester cuts could be nixed

There is a lot going on surrounding the budget as Congress approaches the December 13 deadline for lead negotiators — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of their respective budget committees — to reach an agreement, per the October deal that ended the government shutdown.

Republicans in Congress are, generally, ready to deal on the budget, one way or another, after the hit in the polls they took in October. But discussions current taking place between Ryan and Murray would undo tens of billions in sequester cuts, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal:

Lawmakers must still overcome significant obstacles, including last-minute pressure from Democrats seeking a renewal of expanded federal unemployment benefits and labor unions opposed to proposed cuts in federal employees’ pensions.

Still, officials close to the talks say that Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chief negotiators for their parties, are closing in on a deal that, while smaller in scope than past budget deals, would mark a rare moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has been lurching from one fiscal crisis to the next.

Democrats lose advantage in congressional ballot polls

A day after releasing brutal poll numbers for President Barack Obama, Quinnipiac University released another poll with very bad news for congressional Democrats.

A little more than a month after the polling firm found Democrats with a huge 9-point advantage (43/34) just before the tumultuous government shutdown, Republicans have gained ground and are now tied (39/39) in the generic congressional ballot.

Quinnipiac saw big swing from independent voters compared to the poll they released on October 1. The latest poll found Republicans with an 11-point advantage (37/26) over Democrats with independents. In October, the Democrats had a 2-point lead (32/30) over Republicans with this important voting bloc.

Here’s a quick look at Quinnipiac generic congressional ballot polls to give you an idea of how things have shifted this year:

 Generic Congressional Ballot

The poll numbers for Republicans before, during, and after the government shutdown were abysmal. Talking heads and pundits on both sides of the aisle predicted that the GOP would not only lose its shot at taking control of the Senate, but could even lose control of the House.

Obamacare nearly cost McAuliffe an election

Terry McAuliffe

Democrats will probably tell you that a win is a win, but they have to be worried about last night’s gubernatorial election in Virginia. Polls in days up to the election showed that scandal-plagued Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), a friend of the Clinton family and former DNC chair, held a 6.7-point lead and a significant money advantage over Attorney Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA).

McAuliffe tried to cast Cuccinelli as an out-of-touch social conservative who was similar to those responsible for shutting down the federal government. That message connected with voters. In the aftermath of the government shutdown, he held a 17-point lead over his Republican opponent.

But McAuliffe’s lead diminished in the days leading up to the election, though most polls showed him winning by 6 points or more. But what was thought to be an easy win for Democrats. But news organizations took their time calling the race last night, as Cuccinelli was stronger than he appeared.

In the end, McAuliffe received 48% of the vote, winning the race by just 2.5 points, and Politico notes this morning that the Obamacare disaster is a big reason why his support dropped on election day:

“Despite being outspent by an unprecedented $15 million, this race came down to the wire because of Obamacare,” Cuccinelli said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

Poll: Obama’s approval rating slides to new low

The government shutdown was supposed to boost President Barack Obama’s standing, according to some pundits and talking heads, but it appears that Americans didn’t get that memo. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll on Wednesday showing President Obama’s approval rating a new low and that his personal favorability has taken a hit.

Arkansas voters blame Democrats for government shutdown

A new poll released yesterday by the University of Arkansas shows that voters in the state place more blame for the government shutdown on President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, a finding that could put Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) in a tough spot in his bid for re-election.

Pryor has been trying to distance himself from President Obama and national Democrats, going so far to tie himself to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate who tried to broker a compromise to reopen the federal government before being rebuffed by the White House and Senate Democratic leaders. The Arkansas senator has tried to blame his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), for the shutdown.

The University of Arkansas poll found that Pryor’s approval rating has dropped from 53% in 2012 to 34%. Voters in the state now mostly disapprove of his job performance, which has jumped from 21% last year to 44% this year.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) has also taken a hit, but his numbers are still above water, currently at 34/29, down from 45/18 last year.

The poll release notes that both senators are polling below former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who was ousted by Boozman in 2010 by a large margin. Boozman will have time to recover he’s up for re-election in 2016. Pryor, however, faces a much more bumpy road ahead.

Though the poll found Democratic support remaining steady and Republicans slightly declining, it also found independents have been on the rise and a majority of the lean toward the GOP.

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