As was widely warned prior to and during this year’s fiscal sequestration, speculation is again rampant that the government “shutdown” – which is not remotely close to a true shutdown at all – will hurt everyone, but especially special interest demographics. While the latter point is likely true due to the very nature of illegitimate Big Government pursuits, the common demagoguery that insists the federal government must maintain (and of course grow) its juggernaut presence in our lives and economy to prevent mass hysteria, chaos, and anarchy are simply absurd.
The government “slimdown,” as it is marginally more accurate to characterize it, is having a practically insignificant impact in the short-term macroeconomic sense. The fact that the market is far superior and ethical at efficient and prosperous capital allocation indicates that a smaller government footprint – even if temporarily accomplished through a budget impasse – is helpful rather than hurtful to the economy long-term. However, there can be no doubt that power-hungry politicians of all stripes and leanings will ignore this point entirely, as it inherently calls into question the legitimacy of their respective special interest pandering and bases of support. Only time will tell if this slimdown will result in far more appreciable, likely negative, political effects.
To that point, Republicans have sought the destruction of Obamacare in the worst possible ways of late – from both an efficacy and a political perspective. If the GOP is widely perceived by the public as being those chiefly responsible for any inconvenience experienced during this slimdown, rightly or wrongly, history suggests that the junior party members will suffer electorally for it – all without having achieved anything substantive in the way of avoiding Obamacare’s birth or subsequent implementation. The party may well be “all in,” without a high probability of success in return.
Given the nature of politics, this slimdown may simply be grand theater. Indeed, it might occur that Republicans end up capitulating to Senate Democrats and the president on the Continuing Resolution (CR) (and possibly the looming debt ceiling increase as well), and then proceed to campaign on their adversaries’ unwillingness to hold themselves to the same standards as the general populace and to delay the so-called “individual mandate” (tax fine) while nonetheless doing so for large corporations. Whether or not this approach will materialize or bear fruit, of course, remains to be seen.
All that said, there was another option available, one which would have far better served the Republicans politically and ethically long-term: the party would have made political hay at Obamacare’s expense in the interim, surely, but ultimately should have allowed the individual mandate and the broader legislation itself to come into being unhindered – warts and all. There is ample theoretical and practical economic evidence to suggest that Obamacare is a failure-on-delivery program, inherently flawed to the point of implosion before it can even get off the ground, so to speak. The people who either supported or were indifferent to this legislation deserve and need to directly experience the real pain that the law’s application will bring them in order to achieve any real possibility of properly repealing it, and further understand and diffuse just how bad of an idea it was to begin with for posterity’s sake.
Perhaps this suggested approach would not actually achieve the predicted outcome; that is certainly possible. But if not, nothing Republicans are doing or have done – indeed, nothing they can do absent full control of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government – will substantively prevent the law’s inception anyway. By playing games with the sheeple’s perceptions, rather than allowing them to reap real effects from their own choices (even if that choice was apathy), the GOP risks handing the president yet more power to impose his will unimpeded on the American public during the final two years of his term.
There exists plenty of substance to challenge Obamacare on its merits: its ethical and constitutional illegitimacy, its purported efficacy with relation to its publicly stated objective(s); and its fiscal sustainability and appropriateness, to say the least. That said, however, it is sometimes difficult to understand just how Republicans perceive at times that their policies and tactics are progressive to their own political objectives. History suggests that Republicans will lose on this issue, and there can be no genuine claim that the GOP was not aware of this likelihood.
As a side note, it is interesting to witness how certain politicians and political pundits, including the president himself, are indignant at House Republicans for refusing to pass a so-called “clean” CR, instead opting to evaluate and subsequently vote on individual departments and programs in piecemeal fashion. What these detractors fail to acknowledge publicly is that this is precisely how the annual budget is supposed to be assessed and determined, albeit well prior to the start of the fiscal year in question. Passing a so-called clean CR does nothing to evaluate the individual programs involved, their respective validity, or efficacy. A CR, by definition, is the result of previous failure(s) to pass a “clean” budget and typically maintains previously appropriated funding levels regardless of whether they are still necessary or if the constituency still approves, and in many cases these appropriations were secured years ago.