Lessons of the shutdown
Well, that worked, didn’t it? Shutting down parts of the government for two and a half weeks and coming this close to default and economic disaster showed that the Republicans were serious about ... what was it, exactly? Something about not liking big government, or debt, or an already-passed bill that tries to make sure all Americans have health insurance, or President Obama, we think. In the end, their message was like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Would they dare do it again in a few months, after Wednesday’s deal that temporarily raises the debt limit, allows spending and even pays furloughed workers expires?
Not if they listened to the financial markets and American people, who were appalled at what was going on and placed most of the blame on the Republicans.
Not if they listened to their leaders, but that has been the problem all along. That, and the leaders themselves, who have been unwilling or unable to control those who would put gestures before governing.
So, another game of chicken (Russian Roulette may be more apt) is less likely now, but by no means impossible.
This is a victory for the president and Democrats. There can be no mistake about that. But the only way to turn it into a lasting one, for themselves and the country, is to take the Republicans’ concerns about the debt seriously, make a real effort to engage them between now and January, and make some progress on a deficit-reduction plan.
The bipartisan congressional budget committee appointed as part of Wednesday's deal is the place to start. Everything needs to be on the table — not just increasing taxes and cutting defense spending, but tax code and entitlement reforms (if tax increases were presented as part of these, the Republicans might find them more palatable).
This was a crisis, one that the Republicans created and that threatened to destroy their party. The American people, having been put through it, now deserve what they haven’t had for some time (partly through their own fault): people in Washington who can work together for the good of the country.