Shutdowns Aren’t Accidents

Oct 22 2013 @ 2:41pm

That’s why Jonathan Bernstein is betting against a weeks-long shutdown in January:

All three extended shutdowns in recent American history—the two Newt Gingrich shutdowns in late 1995, and the Ted Cruz shutdown this month—were deliberately planned. In 1995, Gingrich foolishly believed that Bill Clinton was a weak man who would buckle if faced with the risks of an extended shutdown. This year, at least if you accept the surface explanation, radicals believed that a long fight would spark a wave of anger at Obamacare. It’s possible, of course, that Tea Partiers or some other group will decide another long shutdown is the right plan. But don’t expect prolonged shutdown (more than two or three days) to be the natural result of a normal budget stalemate. It doesn’t seem to happen.

Even if we avoid another shutdown, Collender has low expectations for the budget negotiations:

[W]hy does anyone think that the 2014 sequester that will occur on mid-January unless Congress and the White House agree on a deal to stop it will be enough to get everyone to compromise? Everyone also hated it the first time around but it was the best alternative compared to all of the others. Not only will that still be the case in January 2014, it will be even truer this winter with the primaries and general election being only months rather than years away.

That’s not to say that a budget deal can’t or won’t happen in December and January. But it does say that, if there is a deal, it will be much smaller and far more symbolic than significant. It will be the kind of deal where everyone declares victory and goes home.