We are now in the second week of the government shutdown with no end in sight. Aside from a single meeting at the White House last week, President Obama, Senate leaders and House leaders are not speaking to each other.
All sides are becoming increasingly dug in. The House refuses to put a clean continuing resolution to a vote unless the President agrees to negotiate on Obamacare and government spending. The President refuses to negotiate unless the House first passes a clean CR. And the Senate refuses to send conferees necessary to set up a conference between the House and Senate to negotiate and end to the government shutdown.
The problem is that each side is now so dug in that they are more concerned about saving face than finding a way out of this mess.
Democrats don’t think they have anything to gain by giving in – Republicans are being pummeled in the polls and they rightfully believe that forcing a government shutdown over Obamacare makes Republicans look foolish.
President Obama does not want to give on his signature domestic achievement (even though he’s already granted various waivers to businesses and others) and he has repeatedly said he will not negotiate. Just earlier today President Obama called Speaker Boehner to reiterate that he will not negotiate on a government funding bill or debt limit increase and called a press conference saying the same. He later held a press conference essentially saying the same thing.
Republicans in the House are standing firm in their denial of funding unless changes to Obamacare are made and if they cave in now they will have achieved nothing except taking the full blame for the shutdown.
So how does this end?
There can be no progress unless both sides are willing to come to the table and negotiate a way out of this. Everyone seems to have forgotten that the government shut down seven times during President Reagan’s administration over differences in policy with Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. And what was the catalyst the enabled a solution? Both sides agreed to give the other something they had asked for. That is how you govern. That is how divided government works – just as our Founders envisioned.
No one has stepped up and proposed a sensible solution out of the shutdown. President Obama says he is willing to negotiate on Obamacare, entitlement reform, government spending, and anything else the Republicans want to discuss once the government is funded and the debt ceiling has been raised. Right, of course he is. Because we have seen so much have that the past five years.
The Republicans, for their part, haven’t proposed any solutions whatsoever other than passage of their proposed CR’s which have included at various times the defunding of Obamacare in total, a postponement of the individual mandate, and an eliminate of Obamacare’s tax on medical devices.
Is there nobody in the entire government who can step forward and lead us out of this mess? We elect the leaders of our nation at the voting booth every couple of years, but apparently not one of them know anything about leadership.
I am sure there are a number of creative proposals that would be a sensible resolution to the shutdown, but here’s one. Hold a vote on a clean CR and debt ceiling but on the condition that there will be an immediate subsequent vote on postponing the individual mandate and eliminating the tax on medical devices. What is the problem with that solution?
President Obama has said he believes that if a vote on a clean CR were held today that it would pass. Fine, hold the vote and vote to increase the debt ceiling as well so we don’t default for the first time in our history. But there is also a strong likelihood that, at the very least, a vote to eliminate the tax on medical devices from Obamacare would pass both the House and Senate. A vote to postpone the individual mandate may pass as well. The problem is that Harry Reid won’t allow a vote on either proposal.
This would actually allow both sides to save face and avoid “giving” up anything. They would simply put their policy proposals to an up or down vote.
Whatever the right solution is, something has got to give here. It is time for someone to step to the forefront and lead our nation out of this self-inflicted crisis.
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