Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Molly Ball: Republicans Shut Down The Government for Nothing

The government shutdown took $24 billion out of the economy. 800,000 federal employees were out of work. Cancer treatment for children was impaired, as were WIC and SNAP programs for the poor. The GOP favorability rating has sunk to a record low. The Republican party is divided and its 2014 prospects are damaged. So did the Republicans, motivated by a quixotic quest to defund Obamacare, achieve anything at all? Writing in The Atlantic, Molly Ball correctly states that the GOP has nothing to show for this debacle:

For Republicans, it was basically for nothing.

The GOP will actually get less out of the final deal being brokered than the party would have gotten had House conservatives never staged their revolt on Obamacare. In fact, the drama is likely to end with Republicans ceding policy concessions to Democrats.

...The "concession" extracted by the GOP in the deal, the sole change to the health-care law, is purely cosmetic: a reinstatement of the requirement that people seeking subsidies under the Affordable Care Act furnish proof that they qualify. That requirement was in the original law, but the administration delayed it when implementation hit snags in July.

Obamacare will not be repealed. Obamacare will not be defunded. Obamacare will not be delayed. The individual mandate will not be delayed. The medical-device tax will not be repealed. The health-insurance subsidies given to members of Congress and their staffs will not be taken away.

Democrats will get the government funded at levels they (grudgingly) sought in the first place, for longer than they originally sought, and without the looming threat of default.

So what did Republicans get for shutting down the government for 17 days? Their poll numbers tanked. Their gubernatorial candidate in Virginia appears headed for defeat in next month's election. The business community is rethinking its support. Veterans and the elderly are ticked off. And any leverage they ever had to push their goals of reducing the size of government and chipping away at health-care reform is gone.

All in all, it's been a worthwhile exercise for the GOP.

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