We already know the next two acts of this drama. The Senate will refuse to accept the latest disingenuous House offer of allowing temporary government funding in exchange for a one-year delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Barring a miracle, the government will then be forced to cease all non-emergency operations as of midnight tonight.
We also know that at some point, the government will have to re-open, and that Republicans will have to relent on their fantasy of destroying Obamacare. The Republicans picked the president’s signature achievement, the one issue on which he can’t be rolled. But what will be their price for allowing the government to function?
On budget issues, President Obama has a very unfortunate history of needless cave-ins, most recently in the “fiscal cliff” deal of last January, when all of the Bush tax cuts were scheduled to expire. Obama had most of the leverage, because if Congress did nothing, taxes would increase on everyone. In that bargaining, he settled for very modest tax hikes on the richest, but allowed Social Security taxes on working people to rise by two full percentage points. The bargain was such a windfall for Republicans that Grover Norquist, the enforcer of the no-tax-hike-pledge, quietly urged Republicans to take the deal. (more…)