Nick Gillespie thinks that you shouldn’t worry yourself about which party is responsible for refusing to negotiate or which party is trying to leverage economic damage of various scope in order to get an agenda that was just rejected by the electorate implemented because probably Both Sides are Doing It. Rather, we should focus on the president who is causing everything by refusing to lead, with leadership:
The one thing that shouldn’t be slighted, though, is that it is ultimately Barack Obama’s fault. He’s the deciderer, right, the top dog? The eight years of his time in office will be known to future generations as the Obama Years and not the Boehner Perplex or the Reid Interregnum.
Indeed, the shutdown is happening because the federal government doesn’t have a budget for fiscal 2014, which starts today. The reason it doesn’t have a budget is because the Republican-led House passed a budget calling for $3.5 trillion in spending, the Democratically controlled Senate passed a budget calling for $3.7 trillion in spending, and President Obama issued a proposal calling for $3.77 trillion in spending. This happened back in the spring. The House and the Senate passed their budget plans in late March. The president’s proposal, the last to be issued, came out on April 10.
Then you compounded legislative issues by failing to kick the asses of sorry little functionaries like John Boehner and Harry Reid to pass budgets on a regular basis. At this point, you’re one for five, batting .200 on budgets. If you had forced the budget process, most Americans would never have learned of the debt limit, whose increase you used to rail against so eloquently. It’s hard, after all, for Congress not to pass increases to pay for spending it budgeted through the normal budget process.
Like a head-in-the-clouds grad-school layabout, you yourself were late on just about everything too, such as Obamacare deadlines and this year’s budget plan. Think about it: You became unpopular enough that Americans were willing to vote back into partial power the same team that gave us the goddamn Bush years.
You lost total control of the federal government and thus the ability to not have to offer anything. Get over it. Figure out how to fix the impasse and spend way more money than the American people think the government should be spending.
After all, it’s your name on the era.
First of all, I love the opening tautology — some people will name a political era after the president as shorthand, and some subset of them might be unsophisticated enough to think that this means that the president dominates domestic policy, and this proves that Sorkin and Westen are right! (It probably goes without saying that he moves on to the old “how can you say that the president has limited power over domestic policy when the president can bomb stuff when there’s obviously a single indivisible entity called Presidential Power so haha gotcha” routine.) Also note the end, where Gillespie tries the classic conservertarian move of invoking general opposition to federal spending in the abstract while failing to note the far more relevant fact that most specific federal spending is highly popular. The rest I’ll outsource to Chait:
First, the lack of a conference to negotiate the House and Senate budgets didn’t happen for “all sorts of reasons.” It happened for one reason: Democrats pleaded to hold one and Republicans refused. Senate Democrats have spammed my e-mail in-box pleading for a budget conference on a near-daily basis. House Republicans refused because their strategy is not to negotiate through regular order but to use the threat of a shutdown and debt default to leverage unilateral concessions. This isn’t my partisan accusation. They said this themselves, repeatedly!
Third, Gillespie’s entire rant is beside the point, because the lack of a negotiated budget is not the cause of a shutdown. Budget conferences are designed to set long-term federal budget policy. Keeping the government open doesn’t require that. You just need to pass a “continuing resolution.” That’s it. Pass the CR, and the government stays open, and then you can either negotiate or not negotiate the federal budget.
It’s continually amazing to me that this publication publishes commentary on public policy by a writer who lacks even a rudimentary understanding of the policy process.
In fairness, lacking even a rudimentary understanding of the policy process is something that can be found on the nominal left as well:
However I have zero sympathy for the Obama administration as they struggle to correct these glitches in the federally run exchanges. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has asked we give them “the same slack you give Apple,” but that is an unfair comparison since Apple is not forcing you to be their customer.
It’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference between this kind of ostensible “left” and conservertarians. Why not just start babbling about broccoli at this point?
Yes this is an incredibly difficult technological task, but it is only an incredibly difficult task because Obama chose to make it so difficult. President Obama and Congressional Democrats could have adopted a much better health care law that would have also been dramatically easier to implement. They chose not to.
Democrats could have just directly expanded public insurance to the uninsured. Even if they insisted on going with a private insurance system there was no need to build these exchanges. For example, in Switzerland the government simply mandates all insurers sell an approved basic package but there is no special government run site you are made to buy from.
If the incredible complexity at least provided real advantages that might be understandable. Instead the ACA was made needlessly complex so it could purposely leave in place an inferior system that allows the health care sector to continue to rip off Americans.
If you choose to make your plan needlessly complex, you won’t get any slack when you run into problems implementing it.
I guess there is a trivial and irrelevant sense in which the assertion that “Democrats could have just directly expanded public insurance to the uninsured” can be made sorta true. An entity called the “Democratic Party,” in an alternate political universe with a unicameral House about three times the size and heavily apportioned to emphasize liberal representation the way it’s currently apportioned to emphasize conservative representation might have been able to enact a single-payer plan. In the actually existing political universe of 2010, the idea that Obama could have “chosen” to enact Medicare for all is just absurd. As always, such arguments abjure history and structural limitations — the requirement to make social programs more complicated and worse to buy off vested interests is pretty much how social policy is made in the United States; it’s not an invention of Barack HUSSEIN Obama. And this is a particularly strange week to assume that we have a perfect constitutional system that is just being screwed up by those meddling Democratic presidents.