Tomasky makes an important point:
The Senate CR funds the government in the coming weeks at a level of $988 billion. The Democrats wanted $1.058 billion. But they passed a bill at Republican levels. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said late last week: “My caucus really didn’t like that. We took a real hit…So that’s one of the largest compromises since I’ve been in Congress.”
Now why did they pass a bill at the GOP’s preferred levels? Because, Reid said late last week, he had assurances from Boehner that the House speaker wouldn’t attach demands to the Senate CR if Reid brought it in at $988 billion. So this whole thing started with a significant Democratic compromise. But once the Republicans decided that they were going to use both the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to defund and/or delay Obamacare, they couldn’t even vote for a bill that gave them a major fiscal victory. That’s how dug in and crazy they are.
Benjamin Wittes blames the shutdown on the GOP:
I am, generally speaking, a pox-on-both-houses kind of guy, but I have trouble seeing it that way this time.
It was the House Republicans, after all, who attached these conditions to the continuing resolution, thus putting the President in an impossible situation—one in which he either lets the government shut down or both gives up a signature domestic initiative and, along the way, makes clear the presidency’s vulnerability to the most grotesque types of brinksmanship and extortion. No president worth his salt would negotiate under these circumstances—and the responsibility for the situation is thus not even between the parties. One side, and only one, created this crisis.
Richard Posner – a sane libertarian – agrees:
Republicans are not in a position to repeal or even amend the law by constitutionally authorized means, because repeal or amendment would require a majority vote in both houses of Congress (actually a two-thirds vote in both houses, for given a lesser majority Obama could veto a repeal or amendment without fear of being overridden). The intention, which is contrary to the structure of the federal legislative process ordained by the Constitution, is to coerce Congress to repeal (or by amendments to defang) Obamacare by threatening to precipitate an economic crisis by refusing to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling. If the tactic succeeded, it would mean that a minority in Congress had succeeded in amending a federal statute.
(Chart from the Center For American Progress)