Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Shutdown Without a Shutdown

John Quiggin (via Krugman and Yglesias) try to figure out whether or not a Republican House would shutdown the government.

I think the answer to that is actually "no". I think the Republicans have conceded that actually shutting down the government was bad for Newt Gingrich and bad for Republicans. It ultimately painted the GOP as the uncompromising party, and of course the economic rebound let Bill Clinton and the Democrats regain their approval rating.

What I think we'll instead see is a more extreme version of what we're seeing today, which is that Republicans will effectively shut down the government, but keep the lights on at enough agencies that most people notice the government is still around, just less responsive than it use to. We've seen this movie before, in both 1998 and 2006, when the House majority, anticipating a favorable political climate coming soon, decided not to engage in political confrontation. And somehow, we're seeing it today, thanks largely to baroque (and broke) Senate procedure. The appointments process for sub-cabinet officials, District and Circuit Court judges, etc., has already slowed to a crawl. Should Republicans gain even the House majority, it will slow further. Regulatory actions will be subject to scrutiny from subpoena-empowered cranks, which will slow the federal bureaucracy from doing much of anything new, including implementing needed portions of the Affordable Care Act and the financial reform bill. People will still get their Social Security checks. But if you were expecting any agency to do something new that might help you out, you're probably going to be SOL if Republicans take back the House.

1 comment:

Blue said...

I think the domination of the party by extremist media figures makes it more likely. The question will naturally be "will GOP shut down the government", that's unavoidable. And these media figures will argue why the answer should be "yes".

Of course the first test of how much power these guys have over a new Republican majority will be "how long until a Repeal Obamacare bill is voted on".