Tyrone on why the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis were brilliant Republican strategy

by on October 19, 2013 at 7:29 am in Current Affairs, Political Science | Permalink

Tyrone, my evil twin brother, was in town visiting the other day, after a long absence.  He was upset that I gave so little space to the recent machinations in Washington, and that I assigned the events so little importance, so he asked if he could offer his own coverage in a guest post.  Since Tyrone is occasionally a lunch guest of ours, against my better judgment I said yes, so here is my dictation of his midnight sermon:

Tyrone:  I read what a strategic disaster the fracas has been for the Republican Party and for the Tea Party movement in particular, but I don’t see it.  Where I grew up, this counts as a successful stare-down.  Most of the time, the pit bull does not in fact lunge for your throat, but it is hardly a mistake for him to snarl, even if that raises his borrowing rates.

Look where we stand.  In real terms government spending has been falling.  Sequestration appears to be permanent, or it will be negotiated away by Republicans in return for preferred changes in tax and spending policy.  Leading Democratic intellectuals are talking about future fiscal bargains with no new taxes.  The American public polls as increasingly conservative.

With this sequence of events, combined with 2011, the Republicans convinced some of their opponents that they are crazy and irresponsible, without actually being crazy (though they were irresponsible, but that is the whole point).  I peaked once into Tyler’s Twitter feed, and I found several accomplished Democratic economists — yes brilliant economists, as all economists are — suggesting that any day now markets are going to notice the truly crazy character of the Republican House and price that into interest rates and stocks.  Oh what a tale!  (A more accurate reading of the more radical Republicans would in fact be more cynical and ordinary than most of the pablum served up by their critics.)  Imagine that you control only the House and can manage to convince your opponents that you are stronger and more dedicated to your cause than in fact you are.  Only the truly strong and dedicated can pull such a caper off!

Someday, if the Democrats wanted to raise the exemption level for the payroll tax, and pull in a lot of new revenue, what kind of opposition could they expect?  Probably they will shy away from that battle altogether, for fear of another Ted Cruz filibuster.

Yes, Virginia (literally), protecting the brand does sometimes mean going down with the ship.

In the longer run the Republicans will have changed the Doug Overton window on most of these issues.  (Tyler interjects: My apologies loyal MR readers, Tyrone has no Ph.d., not even a Masters, and thus he misuses terminology as would a mere child.)  Even if most Americans do not agree, it is now considered common to believe and to argue publicly that Obamacare represents the end of freedom in our time.  If Obamacare turns out to fail in the eyes of the public, that condemnatory view is being held in the back of people’s minds, whether they admit it or not, whether they agree or not.  They will start to agree more and more, the less generous their Medicare benefits look as time passes.  The future counterrevolution in redistribution is going to have to come from somewhere and it is a major victory to cement the word “Obamacare” as a hypostatized “thingie” in people’s minds, for future reference.

The Republican tactics understand the importance of skewed pay-offs.  In an age of political gridlock, the goal is not to maximize the expected value of your image, any more than you would do the same on a date.  Rather the goal is to maximize the chances of moving your agenda forward, conditional on the existence of world-states where that might be possible.  The harder it is to pull off change, the stupider your strategy will look in most world-states, but hey that is the price of admission to this game.  Capital is to be periodically run down, and if in politics, as in management more generally, if you always look good you are doing something badly wrong.

Another fallacy is that no DC crisis would have focused more attention on the failings of the Obamacare exchanges in a useful manner.  People, that is small potatoes.  No one is going to repeal or even modify ACA because of a few weeks’ bad publicity at the opening.  (Recall the Medicare prescription drug bill, which took weeks to get off the ground but now is beloved and is part of the permanent furniture of the universe, like Supersymmetry or quantum gravity.)  If Obamacare is really going to do poorly, it is better if we build up high or least modest expectations for it.  Imagine the Christmas present of learning you don’t really have insurance coverage after all.  Or the New Year’s resolution that after you have been billed three times for the same policy, you vow to pay for only one of them and live with the bad credit rating until it gets straightened out.  How about extreme adverse selection into the exchanges, resulting in 50-100% premium hikes in the first year of operations?  (The lower premia are now, the better!  Bread, peace, land!  Ach du grüne Neune!)  That’s what will get further traction for the Tea Party on Obamacare, not a bunch of bad reviews on opening day, as if the policy were no more than a mid-tier Jennifer Aniston movie (I can no longer refer to Sandra Bullock in this context), to be swatted down by mild tut-tuts of disapproval and inconvenience.

The very best victories are often described as ignominious retreats.

Tyler again: Readers, I am sorry to subject you to such rants.  But Tyrone insisted.  In fact he threatened that, if I did not comply with his request, he would write a lengthy review of Average is Over, for which outlet I am not sure, perhaps an average outlet.  He threatened to shutter our common household.  He prophesied that cats would lie down with dogs.  He even threatened to default on our joint credit card bill, ruining my credit rating forever.  And people, you now all know just how powerful such threats can be.

prior probability October 19, 2013 at 7:44 am

It looks like Tyrone is familiar with the ideas of Thomas Schelling

The Objective Historian October 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Tyrone is a genius. I think Tyler was being facetious about the word “rant.” I totally agree with Tyrone. Obama and Reid’s big “red line” was that they were not going to negotiate over the govt shutdown and debt ceiling increase. Now, until January and Feburary that is exactly what they promised to do.

I wish Boehner had repeatedly talked about all the deals done for the debt ceiling increase; the piecemeal slight tax increases by Reagan (he cut taxes 25% in total which is the main idea), the increase in marginal rates by Bush I, etc. Obama is the one holding the economy hostage, if anyone. But as they say, it’s a “tough crowd,” i.e., the MSM.

What we really need is a more proportional tax increase on the middle income vast majority of taxpayers. The tax code is way TOO progressive. Everyone should pay something for all the federal spending they enjoy, either directly or indirectly (importantly like military defense). That’s a political disaster. But I personally would prefer everyone including me pay more taxes than cut Social Security. Look those baby boomers paid in all those years; it’s a fiction, but theoretically the government was supposed to save that in a bank getting interest for when they retired. Instead the government (we, the people) spent it. If you want, just change the rules a lot more drastically for the next people entering the system.

But Tyrone’s point is really that these are marginal battles over what is a conservative Reaganist USA. I don’t think the marginal tax rate will ever be over 40% again. Reagan’s success was too palpable. People do understand taxing the rich hurts the unemployed. Thatcher proved that, too.

Also Boehner should have explained that the reason we keep hitting the debt ceiling is that the stimulus in 2009 was a disaster. Obama’s own projections then proved that. He said 4% growth and 5% unemployment by now. That obviates the debt ceiling in itself.

I think part of the problem is that too many Republicans when forced to vote will raise the debt ceiling without conditions as the vote proved. Boehner’s “hand” is procedural, not substantive. I think Obama’s profligacy is a good election issue for 2014.

Forbes has a graph; we spend total government (f, s, l) 35% of GDP. That’s a new record, higher than WW II (when federal spending was higher by all other spending lower). That has to be something to campaign on.

The GOP are the worst marketers of great ideas in the world; this is not Reagan’s great communicator style. Welch was right.

Aaron October 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm

The red line was that they don’t make unrelated concessions in exchange for ending the shutdown or concessions for the debt limit.

The concession they demanded was Obamacare, Obamacare was unaffected. The concessions you’re talking about, negotiating over the budget and spending levels, and just the things you already talk about when agreeing on a budget.

Btw, it’s a bit ingenuous to talk about the stimulus being a disaster when
a) The initial size of the crash was underestimated so the projections for 2009 were off

b) Since 2010 the GOP has been the one setting spending levels. They arguably own the recovery more than Obama.

derek October 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I will bet that either through executive action or Reid in the Senate including something in a bill the individual mandate will be delayed for a half or full year, and the medical device tax will be repealed?

This was a power play pure and simple. The Republicans have managed to push Obama into defending to the end the law as set in stone. It is broken, poorly designed, needs changes and adjustments to work. But Obama has made it a point of pride and principle that it stands.

I think that is a victory for the Republicans.

Aaron October 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I’m sorry but I’d be shocked if the mandate was delayed at all (unless the software issues on healthcare.gov or state exchanges are so serious as to necessitate a delay). Even the medical device tax is likely safe.

Obama and the Democrats have shown that they are not willing to stop the ACA under threat of a shutdown and probably not even a default. There’s no reason to think that a future shutdown or debt ceiling threat will turn out any different. That doesn’t mean the Republicans won’t try again but the consequences of them trying this time are considered by almost everyone to be a defeat.

As for it being a “power play”. The ACA was set law, the Republicans were trying to use the threat of not-passing must-pass legislation that they agreed with in order to overturn an unrelated law, that’s not a “power play” by the Democrats but extortion by the Republicans. And I agree that the law needs changes and adjustments, so does Obama and the Democrats. But the Republicans won’t allow bills to make changes and adjustments because they want the ACA to have problems, they’ll only allow bills to shut it down.

I can’t understand how it’s a victory for the Republicans, they’re down in the polls and didn’t get any concessions. All the establishment Republicans are saying the showdown was a bad idea because they lost. All the Tea Party Republicans are saying congressmen should have voted against the bill and gone into default, they wouldn’t say that if they thought they won.

The only thing they accomplished was shaving a few points off of GDP growth which could help them in 2014 or 2016 if they keep themselves out of the narrative. But that’s a very poor definition of a “victory”.

Claude Emer October 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm

@Observer, the reason we keep hitting the debt ceiling is that we set it low enough to have to do this again later. When we set it, we already have an idea when it’ll be reached. In fact, since 1960, it’s been reached 78 times. http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/Pages/debtlimit.aspx

@Derek, you should start with your last sentence and then continue on with your rationalizations.

This whole episode was political theater and will only serve the hardliners during their reelection campaigns. For everyone else it was a waste of time. People are debating who got more concessions than whom? Really?

Claude Emer October 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

*By Observer I mean Objective and by it’s been reached I mean it’s been raised 78 times.

Adam Eran October 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Hilarious…! “Objective” (as in Rand-ist objectivism?) “Historian” makes the laughable assertion that taxes are too “progressive” now… when hedgies get carried interest in the billions taxed at the (record low number) capital gains rate. Wow!

Even better is the assertion that government “debt” is a problem. Oh let’s just ignore the fact that government literally creates the money. When the Fed makes a dollar for Treasury to spend, it makes an equal and opposite “liability”… the “debt”…

I’ll believe this “debt” is a problem like a household’s when any historian, objective or not can introduce me to a single household that can mint a few trillion-dollar coins…and pay all that “debt” off tomorrow. Not every nation follows this convention of balancing asset (dollars) with liabilities (“debt”) that’s really a legacy of commodity-backed currency, but we do.

And because we do, “debt” reductions have always sucked financial assets out of the economy, and are correlated with massive downturns. The last significant “debt” reduction was the Clinton surplus (the object of so much admiration). The time before that was in 1929.

Andy Jackson paid off the entire “debt” in 1835…and terminated the central bank…and got the (Great-Depression-sized) panic of 1837.

See http://rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/federal-budget-not-household-budget-here-s-why for the entire history.

Meanwhile, I’m with Tyrone. Calling a president whose signature accomplishment (“Romneycare”) was authored by a right-wing think tank (Heritage) a “Kenyan socialist” has moved the political discourse so far right that this same president is trying to govern to the right of Richard Nixon. I don’t care if they lost the congress by 1.5 million votes, lost the Senate and lost the presidency. R’s are running the place. It’s pretty clever, if you ask me.

BC October 19, 2013 at 8:05 am

The idea that the debt crisis detracted attention from the Obamacare exchange’s failings is a fallacy but not for the reason that Tyrone cites. Suppose the Obamacare launch had been a resounding success with hundreds of thousands or even millions of people enrolling — truly enrolling, in the sense of actually getting health insurance, not just registering for an account or completing a few preliminary steps — within the first few days. Does anyone believe that such a story would not have received front page attention, with an obvious tie-in made to the Republicans’ effort to defund Obamacare? I seem to recall in the first few days of October, contemporaneous with the start of the shutdown, a massive widespread media effort to find someone, anyone, that successfully signed up for Obamacare. The Obamacare story played second fiddle to the debt ceiling and shutdown *because* the launch was so disastrous.

ProfNickD October 20, 2013 at 4:22 am

+1. The mealy-mouth Republicans (who, quite frankly, are just as in favor of ever-expanding government as most Democrats) saying that the defund/delay “stunt” ruined the opportunity for the Obamacare roll-out failure to make headlines are delusional.

The NYC/DC Obama fan-girl media will never, *never* attack Obama’s policies. If the shutdown wasn’t the news then it would have been deadly storms, Hollywood melodrama, or some other inconsequential stories.

Obama = failure will never make the mainstay media’s headlines.

libert October 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Seriously? You can’t actually believe that. Can you? Really?

If that’s really the case, then why did Ezra Klein run story after story about how bad the Obamacare launch was?

dirk October 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

It is uncanny how Interfluidity’s Tyrone post on The Great Stagnation anticipated some of the major themes in Average Is Over.

Dan Weber October 19, 2013 at 9:06 am

What a fun treat for a Saturday morning.

Tyrone’s google image searches are weird — all of them have “pit bull bank” embedded in them. Is he trying to send us a message?

David October 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

I love Tyrone!

I’m confused, though. Tyrone used to be Tyler’s “visiting friend”. Now they’re married?

Jan October 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

Culture has evolved since we last heard from Tyrone.

Peter H October 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

My condolences to Natasha.

Ray Lopez October 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Of course there’s a message–a secret, hidden message–remember this?

> Put the following text into google: freemason Cowan Tyler What is the result? Interesting. “Tyler” is the title of an officer in the Masonic hierarchy, while a “cowan” is a stonemason who is not a member of the Freemasons guild. This from “Freemasonry for Dummies”:
The Tyler’s job is to keep off all “cowans and eavesdroppers” (for more on the Tyler, see Chapter 5). The term cowan is unusual and its origin is probably from a very old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “dog.” Cowan came to be a Scottish word used as a putdown to describe stonemasons who did not join the Freemasons guild, while the English used it to describe Masons who built rough stone walls without mortar and did not know the true secrets of Freemasonry.
- See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/?s=Tyler+cowan+mason#sthash.2IfL1Aj3.dpuf

mw October 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

That’s unfortunate. I thought we were going to get a mea culpa in response to the success of California’s electoral reforms (which this site entirely ignored in favor of relentless focus on the much more amenable-to-cynicism prop 37), an admission that cynicism and fatalism are not always and everywhere justified and it is, in fact, possible to improve the quality of public institutions. But looks like instead we’re gonna double down.

widmerpool October 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

Step down off the stage, mw.

RonRonDoRon October 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm

“success of California’s electoral reforms”

Far too soon to declare success.

JohnLeeHooker October 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm

http://www.fixpensionsfirst.com/100k-pension-club/

if you think CA’s fiscal problems are solved click the link: shows retired public employees, retired UC employees and retired school system employees with PENSIONS over $100K by NAME and AMOUNT

Steven October 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

Why do both links to google searches first direct you to “pit bull bank”?

Paul October 19, 2013 at 10:12 am

As all transportation buffs will recall, Doug Overton liked to hitch his wagon to the L-train.

Sam October 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

Isn’t “Public Choice” in some sense the science of lobbying? Norms be damned. It’s only the rules and institutions that matter. And if you control the rules committee, more power to you.

Uninformed Observer October 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

Bravo! Well done!

Tell Tyrone I’ll save him a good seat as we watch it all burn.

Brian Donohue October 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

While most of the people on the sidelines continue to view this thing through a partisan lens, that’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing elected officials who all know the real score (https://www.cbo.gov/publication/44521) actually rolling up their sleeves. Sure, they throw red meat quotes out to their side through the media, but I am optimistic that over the next couple months, we will get some good government for a change.

john personna October 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

The sad thing is that even “elected officials who all know the real score” deal in gross measures. They want “more teachers” or “less food stamps.” I don’t see a lot of effort put in on understanding current levels, and whether more teachers helps or less food stamps means someone goes a day without a meal. Or, even worse we do “infrastructure” or “food stamps” arguments while agriculture subsidies move quietly through the room (like a gorilla at a basketball game).

Brian Donohue October 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

Despite what you read on blog comments, the ideological spectrum in America is pretty narrow.

Budgeting is a process of figuring out what you have and prioritizing spending. It’s not glamorous, there’s zero Santa Claus factor, and the cognitively dissonant American people will wail on all sides.

But when the dust settles and, particularly as time goes on, the people give you good marks. This is the lesson of 1986 and 1996. Every once in a while, cynicism gives way to reality.

getcali October 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

In Washington, budgeting is aprocess of figuring out what you can get away with. What you have be damned.

john personna October 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Was that a claim that programs are well designed?

john personna October 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

Bruce Bartlett has a good piece today (link) agreeing that the breakdown on budgeting has lead to less program review.

KS October 19, 2013 at 10:49 am

You, um, can’t be serious…

Rather than attempt headache-inducing rebuttal of this hackery, I’ll just go with an example — this column is the equivalent of seeing your football team lose 55-0, and see your quarterback go down with a season-ending injury, and say “we’re winning because i say so!!!!!!!”

Ape Man October 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

You don’t seem to understand. Republicans keep doing these things because they keep winning elections. When they stop winning elections they will stop doing these things. Saying that got badly beat up because the media and a good part of the country are disgusted with them is not looking at the proper metric. The real question is “will they still control the house next election”. And the answer to that is most likely yes.

If they do lose the house, then you can say that Tyrone is wrong.

john personna October 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

Even if Tyrone is right in the short term, and I think he might be, remember that the Republicans themselves have been saying “last chance, demographics!” Indeed the short term gain might build the long term box. How the heck does this sort of Republican Party win a presidency?

derek October 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Remember this. There is no money. The deficit is immense and only possible by printing money. The Democrat project is doomed because when they have no money to buy votes, they will disappear. See Liberal Party of Canada.

john personna October 20, 2013 at 10:14 am

By that argument there never has been any money and yet I’ve done so well with the fake stuff.

Jan October 19, 2013 at 11:33 am

“…they keep winning elections.” Right, and 2014 doesn’t look good. Mid-term elections go against the party of the president and the electorate is older and whiter at mid-terms. Not a good recipe. The only chance I think of Dems taking the House is if something similar to what happened in the Senate last election occurs in the House: the Republicans nominate even more, crazier tea partiers for seats in the few swing districts.

Richard October 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm

The challenge is not in winning district seats. It is in gerrymandering the districts. That is how GOP keeps their seats. Redistricting takes place after the census, so they only have to do it every ten years. Even if the demographics change after five years, all they have to do is engineer the redistricting for the next time around. That’s how the House tends GOP, and that’s where they put the real money.

Matt October 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Not so much. Incumbency and the tendency for Democratic voters to assemble in high concentrations (i.e., cities) makes it easier for Republicans to win House seats. The net effect of gerrymandering in 2012 was no more than half a dozen house seats for Republicans:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/17/redistricting-didnt-win-republicans-the-house/

richard40 October 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Actually since all the dems tend to concentrate in cities, the repubs dont need gerrymandering to win, since properly drawn compact districts will tend to produce a few 90% dem districts, and many 60% repub ones. The real problem with 2010 is the dems lost the chance to gerrymander it their way.

KS October 19, 2013 at 12:21 pm

You and I have a very different definition of the term “winning elections”.

The Republicans cannot compete on a national presidential level as of right now. All they can do is stall

Ape Man October 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

You don’t understand the concept of incentives. People in house races don’t get rewarded for helping their parity win the national election. They rewarded by winning the race they ran in. It does not matter if we never see another Republican President. If they control the house, then they control the house.

Having said that, I think it is little premature to say the Republicans cannot compete on the national stage right now. I remember people saying that about the democrats after 12 years of Republicans holding the presidency and after one of the most hard fought democratic primary races in recent memory (which Clinton won). For that matter, think back to how Lincoln won the presidency. He was considered extreme and wacky for his time. But his opponents split the vote.

Hal George October 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Lincoln won outright in 1860, a fact which is seldom taught – even if his opponents hadn’t “split the vote”. Lincoln got over 50% of the vote in states with a majority of electoral votes. (And he would have gotten a considerable fraction of the Douglas and Bell votes, depending on the identity of his hypothetical single opponent, and if he had been allowed onto the ballot in every state). Running multiple candidates is generally conceded to have been his opponents’ optimum strategy.

dan1111 October 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm

@KS, I think Ape Man is right here. Your 55-0 analogy doesn’t hold, because the Republicans haven’t actually lost anything yet (they failed to get what they wanted in the shutdown, but they never had a chance of that anyway). It is still all just speculation that this is going to cost them big time in the future.

As for being able to win a presidential election, there isn’t one going on right now. The previous election was not lost because of perceived extremism, so it has little relation to the current fight. It is not clear how much of an impact this will have on the next election. The 2011 debt ceiling crisis was a non-factor in the 2012 election.

This could end up being very damaging to Republicans, but we really don’t know yet.

Terry Holcomb October 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Not true. They can win elections on a statewide basis and by doing so control the house and soon the Senate.

richard40 October 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

If obamacare fails, that will change, since the dems have now gone all in on it. Any failure of obamacare now will drag down the entire dem party, not just obama, the same way bush 2 drug down the entire repub party in 2006-2008. Of course if obamacare works precisely as obama promissed it would (extremely doubtful) then dems will win. In the end it eventually comes down to perfomance, and once performance gets bad enough, no amount of spinfinger pointing, and support from the MSM will cover it up.

Peter Metrinko October 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

If, and it is a big if, ACA is perceived as a failure then Cowen’s argument is right.

Rocky October 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Somebody has to pay for ObamaCare…we know it isn’t the unions as they got a waiver…we know it isn’t big business as they got a waiver…we know it isn’t any of Obama’s crony friends as they got a waiver…

As the young people that Obama is counting on to vote Dem figure out they’re footing the bill here they’ll get educated in the Libertarian mindset really quick. They’ll also recognize the fallacy of socialism…

From each according to their ability to each according to their needs (Karl Marx)…only works when more than 50% are willing to pull the wagon…While Romney’s remark on the 47% may have seemed caustic, it was also reflective of this reality.

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting over what to have for lunch
Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote

ObamaCare has created a lot more lambs and they will contest the vote. We are already seeing that everybody’s deductables and/or premiums are going up. There is NO FREE LUNCH. And as those footing the bill figure that out watch as they start to turn on this monstrosity…it’s a terrible over reach by liberals, they have zero Republican cover as none voted for this major legislation…in the end history may look back and see that ObamaCare was both the high water mark and the axe that cut down the Special Interest State.

dead serious October 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

“We are already seeing that everybody’s deductables and/or premiums are going up.”

I don’t know what kind of coverage you have now or have had the past 10 years, but my premia have been rising at about an 8% clip per year for the past decade, and for plans with higher and higher deductibles coupled with worse and worse coverage.

The reason we have Obamacare is because Republicans couldn’t, or refused to, come up with a better plan. I wish they had, because I’m no great fan of the current healthcare climate.

Willitts October 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm

George H.W. Bush had a better plan in 1990 for universal catastrophic coverage. Democrats opposed it either because A) they wanted more control over health care or B) they didn’t want Bush to take credit for reforming health care.

Cornelius McCracken October 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm

“The reason we have Obamacare is because Republicans couldn’t, or refused to, come up with a better plan. I wish they had, because I’m no great fan of the current healthcare climate.”

Where did this idea come from? Obamacare is a Republican idea. They’ve just tuned on it for some mysterious and almost certainly not racist reason.

richard40 October 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm

That is because obamacare has not actually taken effect yet. Have you seen the reports that the policies offered on the obamacare sites are 99% more expensive for the majority of people trying to sign up.

Tess October 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

> Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting over what to have for lunch
Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote

So what you’re saying is that Malcolm X was right and Martin Luther King was wrong? And that black people, feminists, gay people, and so on shouldn’t try to work within the system when the system has discriminated against them? They should arm themselves and then start gunning down white dudes if their demands for equal rights aren’t met?

derek October 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Didn’t Martin Luther King get shot?

richard40 October 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Fortunately we are not a democracy, we are a republic, with constitutional protections for minorities, which is what allowed King to win, that and the majority of the antion actually were converted to the justice of his cause. It is a dem myth that everybody votes along racial lines, many people still vote for what is best for the whole country. Unfortunately the dems have perverted Kings great message, changing it from gov treating all equally regardless of race, to having a special interest racial spoils system kick in whenever dems win.

jerseycityjoan October 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

It seems to me the big problem — no, the All Consuming Problem — is that we spend so much more, per person, on healthcare than other rich countries.

We can’t afford to keep doing that.

If we stopped doing that, we could afford to cover the uninsured and we could afford to do other things too.

Between overspending on healthcare and military/security, we are talking over a trillion a year, easy.

Claude Emer October 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Now, the big question is “how do stop doing that?”.

Richard October 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

The fallacy isn’t socialism. It works where it can. But it can’t in this country due to the popular diversity and the tendency to value the individual over the whole.

Careless October 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Once you’re starting with the assumption that anything Tyler tells you was written by his evil twin is serious…

bjssp October 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

All of this rests on the assumption that this doesn’t cost them seats in 2014, if not control of the House altogether. There’s a lot of time between now and then, of course, but the could always try this again. What are the odds it really goes better for them next time?

Also, the notion that it’s a fallacy that the shutdown deflected attention away from rollout problems isn’t really a fallacy. It’s probably true to a large degree, if only because people don’t pay that much attention, but even if it’s not, your description of proving it wrong doesn’t make a lot of sense. The point isn’t that it will hurt the program in such a huge way that it will cause its collapse. It’s that it will provide yet another talking point to the Republicans as they compete in 2014.

Ape Man October 19, 2013 at 10:59 am

Your comment would make a lot more sense if their was more competition in house races. Both democrats and republicans have been finely engineering the districts so that there is less and less competition. Until that stops, the idea of house of representatives elections being “competitive” is becoming more and more absurd.

Jan October 19, 2013 at 11:18 am

The gerrymandering isn’t as big a deal as most people say. And on net, it is much more to the Republicans’ advantage, since they did more gerrymandering this time around. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/who-gerrymanders-more-democrats-or-republicans

Jamie_NYC October 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

“The gerrymandering isn’t as big a deal as most people say.” – then why is the re-election rate for the House so high (http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/reelect.php)? On D. vs. R.: the root of gerrymandering is the effort to get more blacks elected. Although they are 12-15% of the electorate, there would be very few in the House if the districts had more natural shape (there is apparently only one black senator now: http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-united-states-senate-just-lost-half-of-its-black-senators-20130716), because the Senate ‘districts’ cannot be gerrymandered.

Jan October 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You’re confusing the effects of local clustering of people along socioeconomic lines and its association with race and political party with gerrymandering. Why are blacks so overrepresented in the presidency now? I don’t understand how reelection rates point to gerrymandering any more than the general analysis I linked to. Incumbancy is a plus–you can see that is the case throughout history.

Also, here is the real history of gerrymandering: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/the-twisted-history-of-gerrymandering-in-american-politics/262369/#slide1

Jamie_NYC October 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Hm, it does not appear you read the article in the link you pointed at:
“After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, some states created “majority-minority” districts, in which the majority of the constituents in the district are non-white, based on Census data. This practice, also known as “affirmative gerrymandering,” etc.” Historical origin, as well as the origin of the name of the practice, is irrelevant to today’s use of gerrymandering.

“I don’t understand how reelection rates point to gerrymandering” – well, don’t you agree that they create ‘safe’ districts for one or the other party? And that the moderate changes in overall electoral voting will not be reflected in the change in number of representatives elected from each party if most of the districts are ‘safe’?

Jan October 20, 2013 at 9:14 am

So, the article I linked looked at about 10 different pieces of gerrymandering history. Gerrymandering goes back much further than 1965 and the case you refer to was one of many. And again, gerrymandering is not fundamentally racial — it is fundamentally dividing up geography along political affiliation. Do you not see how race is just a surrogate, sometimes not a great one, for political party preference?

House seat distribution between parties and how it contrasts with the statewide popular vote (not reelection rates) is what you should look at when searching for evidence of gerrymandering. That is what they did in the article I linked above. Gerrymandering is a thing and, yes, creating safe districts how they do it. But reelection rates, especially in years when they haven’t redrawn districts, is not itself evidence of gerrymandering.

Andrew P October 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

That is why this fight was done now, 13 months before the election. In 2014, I predict a CR will be signed well before Oct 1 – perhaps even a full year’s appropriation!

And Obamacare will fail because it was designed to fail. The whole point is to make Single Payer inevitable and make single Payer look better than Obamacare.

Terry Holcomb October 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Single payer will not happen because there is too much bipartisan opposition to it. Even the Democrats couldn’t pass it when they had total Filibuster proof control of both houses and the Presidency during OBama’s first 2 years in office.

Amdrew P October 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Single Payer could not get 60 Senate votes in 2009, so they passed ObamaCare to soften the public up. By 2016, the disaster of ObamaCare will be so horrendous that the vast majority will be willing to accept Single payer just to get rid of ObamaCare. Hillary’s entire 6-word 2016 platform – “Replace ObamaCare with Medicare For All” – virtually writes itself. And Hillary winning on this platform is a slam-dunk guarantee.

Yancey Ward October 19, 2013 at 10:56 am

I never believed a/the shutdown battle would much hurt the Republicans 2014 election chances, so to some extent I agree with Tyrone- sometimes you do have to make your opponents think you are bat-shit crazy to defend a position (I do it often myself while playing chess). And let’s say Brian Donahue is correct and the two sides sit down and reach some sort of longer term fiscal deal between now and February- the public will look kindly on this, and despite the media, will give credit to the Republicans for forcing the issue. I also take note that a number of liberals were very unhappy that the sequester survived this Republican “debacle”, so the Republicans didn’t at least lose that battle while retreating.

In any case, I think no deal will be reached, but the government will not be shut down again- Republicans have made their point for what it is worth, and by April no one will be talking about this past October. And, by April, the immigration bill will be truly dead.

Brian Donohue October 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

If a deal is done, everyone wins. For Obama, this would be huge for his legacy, and time is running out on ‘non-lame duck’ status.

Look at how Clinton is now venerated, even though he admitted to governing to the right of where he would have preferred.

Elected during a calamity, Obama could claim twin achievements of health care and putting the country back on a sound fiscal footing. Pretty good story.

For Democrats, this has the added benefit of leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Republicans who have a visceral dislike of Obama.

If I keep repeating this mantra, maybe it’ll happen.

Jan October 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

In the long-term it may provide a favorable retrospective of Obama. But in the near-term, I think the optics of cutting more spending while not raising revenue will be “Dems cave.”

Brian Donohue October 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

Jan,

“Cutting more spending”? These words must mean something different with respect to government than they do in the real world, cuz from where I’m standing, spending keeps going up.

The low-hanging fruit is gone. Taxes are very progressive, moreso than in Europe. So tax increases, at this point, isn’t as easy as soak the rich.

Like everyone else, left and right, you continue to characterize this as a winner/loser scenario. I don’t buy it.

And I have made no comment about how spending is prioritized, yet you automatically assumed this means ‘Dems cave’. There’s a lot of corporate welfare meat on that bone too, for example.

The whole point is to come out of the smoke-filled room with a package. Politics aside, I suspect there is more common ground here than is assumed. And both sides get their talking points in order for political cover. This is why serving up spinach has to be bipartisan.

And of course you obsession with the short-term marks you out as a Keynesian. :)

Jan October 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I think in a society that is much more unequal than any other rich country, more progressive taxes are only logical. But yes, taxes on the middle class need to go up as well, by all means. Smarter would be a carbon tax, but I don’t want to make anyone here uncomfortable. I assume many spending cuts would be on programs that Dems like, because that is what I think the Republicans would accept, without doing real tax reform. I welcome a broader corporate tax reform/subsidies approach, but not sure that is easy enough to pull off in a few months.

Brian Donohue October 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

America is more unequal because we have more affluent people, not more poor people, than Europe. Sounds like envy, and self-defeating too. You can laugh off Laffer if you choose, but marginal rates are pushing 50% now.

I got no problem with inequality per se, which reflects in large part choices people make. I don’t envy the lawyer who works 90 hours a week and makes $700K, and I don’t feel entitled to part of his pay because it’s more than mine.

I’m thinking more of a VAT- Boomers will be mostly spenders, not earners, over the next 20 years, and they should pay for the mess they’ve created and largely benefited from.

dead serious October 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Marginal rates are pushing 50% now in what real world, pray tell?

Do you know anyone, or even know *of* anyone paying anywhere near that 50% marginal rate?

Yancey Ward October 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Dead Serious,

You can get close to that marginal rate if you live in Cali- federal/state combined on just income taxes.

Norm October 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Dead Serious,

Obviously you aren’t dead (fortunately) and it appears you aren’t serious either(unfortunately).
Over 15 years ago I quit in the prime of my career largely because my marginal tax rate was 45% , Federal Income, California Income and Social Security (roughly 28+10+7). Those rates have increased since. I was also very far from alone. To be sure I had acquired, through work, some investment income so I was in somewhat higher income bracket without maxing out of Social Security. Additionally I and many others have significant costs of commuting and child care, which although not “taxes” do decrease the financial incentive to work.

Jan October 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Brian. I understand your not having a problem with inequality, it’s not an an evil point of view per se. But don’t think that it is purely a product of people’s choices. Intergenerational socioeconomic mobility is much lower in the U.S. than most wealthy democracies and I don’t think it is primarily because people born to poor parents make bad choices.

dead serious October 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I don’t think adding federal, state and local taxes is what was meant with the 50% marginal rate comment.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Jan October 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

Do you people not deduct state income taxes in fed tax returns?

dead serious October 20, 2013 at 10:31 am

Norm,

As Jan pointed out, you can deduct state taxes from your federal return. Did you have no mortgage deductions? Other business-related write-offs?

And, just to be clear, here are the 2013 federal tax brackets:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2013/01/05/updated-2013-federal-income-tax-brackets-and-marginal-rates/

I hadn’t really concerned myself with knowing the very top marginal rates because they unfortunately don’t apply to me quite yet. However, you’ll see that the cap is 39.6%, and it kicks in after you’ve paid taxes on your first $400k (single) or $450k (married/joint) – a pretty far cry from 50%.

Yancey Ward October 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Sorry about misspelling the last name.

JohnLeeHooker October 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

“obamacare…Pretty good story.”

Either, you don’t know yet what coverage you’re going to get and pay for

OR, you getting heavy subsidy

OR, you’re insulated for the time being by an employer coverage (and spouse/dependents did not {yet} get kicked into the exchanges.

bill reeves October 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

I like this Tyrone ‘cat. He has moxie. You should have him around more often. After all, it is a scientific fact (perhaps non-replicable, but scientific nonetheless) that it is physically impossible to be too cynical about our National politics.

Tyler Fan October 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

What worries me about the debt ceiling showdowns is that the dominant strategy in such showdowns is to reject the other side’s deal at the very last minute. The only time you really have a gun to the other side’s head is when you’ve made them an offer and there’s no time left on the clock for them to formulate a counteroffer. Then it’s truly a take it or leave it, gun to the head scenario. It’s like a game of hot potato. If default happens exactly at midnight (which of course it doesn’t), then Obama will accept any deal at 11:59 simply because there’s no time for negotiation and he’ll do anything to default. Same with the Republicans: they will do anything at the last minute to avert default.

The trouble is that it’s not exactly clear when default happens. It doesn’t happen at the stroke of midnight. As these showdowns recur, one side or the other will hold out past midnight and nothing bad will happen. They’ll push further and further past the “deadline” in future negotiations and eventually we’ll have a default by accident because there’s no clear timeclock.

So, yeah, Tyrone might be right that it hasn’t damaged the Republican brand as badly as might be thought. But it’s still a really bad strategy in the long-term.

Andrew P October 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

Even this time, default would have taken at least a week past the so-called “deadline”. The Oct 17 mark is when the Treasury runs out of borrowing authority, not when it runs out of cash.

Danram October 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

The Republicans lost because the majority of the general public will perceive the antics of their far right wing as irresponsible, arrogant, and childish, which they were. I am all for having a rational discussion and coming up with a mutually agreeable plan to reduce the deficit. But the far right’s idea of “negotiating” is to say “We’re not gonna accept any tax increases!!!! Tax increases are OFF the table!!! We’re right and you’re wrong, so **** you!!!” You’re not gonna get a deal done that way. Any rational person knows that the only way to get a bi-partisan deficit deal done in the current political climate is that the Democrats are going to have to accept some spending cuts and the Republicans are going to have to accept some tax increases. If the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress with strong majorities, things would be different. But they don’t.

The smart thing would have been to have gotten what could be gotten in serious, closed door negotiations and let Obamacare go ahead as planned. Obama did, affer all, win re-election in 2012 and everyone who voted for him knew that if he won, Obamacare would become a reality. If Obamacare is really as bad as the Republicans are telling us it is, then they should have just shut up about it, allowed it to go ahead, waited until people were totally fed up with it, and then hung it around the Democrats’ necks.

But nooooooooooooooo! Ted Cruz and the rest of the infantile right thought it would be better to throw a temper tantrum, even though it had absolutely no chance of succeeding, and thereby piss off millions of moderate Republicans and independents who might otherwise have voted Republican in the next election.

Now the GOP can forget about winning back control of the Senate, and they’ll be lucky if they can hold on to the House.
“Brilliant Republican strategy”, huh?

What a bunch of blithering idiots! I’m a lifelong registered Republican and I am most definitely going to vote against the Tea Party nut job that currently represents me in Congress because he was “all in” on Cruz’ little stunt. The single best thing that could happen to the Republican Party would be for it to tell it’s far right wing to go **** themselves. But it looks like the party is going to have to re-learn the lesson of 1964 when “true conservative” Barry Goldwater got absolutely steamrolled by Lyndon Johnson: Elections are won at the center, not at the fringe.

Terry Holcomb October 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Lyndon B. Johnson??? One of the worst Presidents this nation ever had. Solid proof that the Voting public doesn’t always get it right. To be perfectly honest, the only reason Johnson won is because of the Kennedy Assassination.

ClaimsAdjuster October 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Typical tea bagger made up history. If Goldwater had voted for the Civil Rights Act, he just would have won Arizona. But that vote earned him a few states in the deep south. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” is a bad electoral strategy then and now.

Tanstaafl October 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

If you are truly a Republican, you are not a very well informed one.

“it looks like the party is going to have to re-learn the lesson of 1964 when “true conservative” Barry Goldwater got absolutely steamrolled by Lyndon Johnson: Elections are won at the center, not at the fringe.”

Two points on this: First, yes, Barry Goldwater got beaten badly in 1964, but he was supported by and set the stage for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Second, you are wrong that elections are won at the center. Two “center” Republican candidates lost in 2008 (McCain) and 2012 (Romney) to a very non-center Democrat candidate (Obama). Reagan, an admirer of “fringe” candidate, Goldwater, on the other hand won two elections in landslides.

Finally you say you are a Republican. If that is true, go ahead and vote against your “tea party” congressman in the primary, but if you’re going to vote against him in the general, just go ahead and change your registration to Democrat, since it seems to me that that is what you are anyway.

Richard October 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Deficit, schmeficit. Deficits don’t mean anything while so much of the money supply gets sequestered in the accounts of the wealthy. Only if that money gets out into the real economy with some real velocity will it cause a problem, namely inflation.Only then would a middle-class tax increase make sense, in order to reduce the supply and curb the inflation rate. Until such a time (which I don’t anticipate ever), an increased deficit is necessary as the rich drain the economy by saving. Remember, public debt = private wealth.

As for the Tea Party, they will serve as scapegoats for the greater GOP. Why do you think the greater GOP is acting so scandalized? Later on when things have quieted down, the goats will return to the fold (along with Koch money) and serve as the goad to the Democratic Party once again.

Guest October 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

Thank you kool aid drinking Obamabots! I am so thankful you have all accepted the $17 trillion in national debt rung up by the boomer generation. We could never have convinced you without Obozo, and his CRT math. Since Obozo has never helped you realize what he’s done, we should pretty much suck the life out of you working hard so we can retire in comfort. Those subsidies under Obozocare were a really unexpected surprise, as well. You are all more than generous. Now go to work and pay for Obozo’s plan , I’m going out for breakfast and then to the beach.

Thehova October 19, 2013 at 11:51 am

Can Tyrone take over Tyler’s blogging duties for a week?

Millian October 19, 2013 at 11:51 am

It’s unimaginable that, say, Paul Krugman would try to express his beliefs like this.

Mario October 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Paul Krugman is the evil twin — note the beard. I think the one replaced the other some time in the late ’80s. Frankly I’m surprised that anyone who reads his current screeds would not recognize his nature.

Dennis Shea October 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Tyler and Tyrone how about if we check out that change in conservative mood from 1995 until today, rather than from 1964?

moderateGuy October 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Finally, someone who understands this was rather shrewd strategy by the GOP. It focused everyone’s attention on both the out of control spending by Obama’s regime AND the failures of ObamaCare. Indeed if the shutdown was not going on the MSM, a part of Demokrat Party, would be running stories every day trying to explain away why ObamaCare is such a disaster. This way the disaster unfolded almost without defense from liberal apologists. Yes it unfolded in the background of the shutdown, but that might’ve been even worse, It was like an irritating itch that one would do almost anything to get rid off.

Bjartur October 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

My ideological Turing test ap started making a huge AAAAHOOOOGA noise when it spotted Tyrone referring to Ezra Klein as “leading Democratic intellectuals”. I’ve heard it beep before, but that’s the first time it’s reacted with an AAAAHOOOOGA (and it’s reviewed multiple Tom Friedman columns for me).

whatever October 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I don’t know that Supersymmetry or quantum gravity are permanent fixture of the universe. I think the Higgs Field would have been a better example.

Of course, Tyrone is not a physicist either.

Harsh Agarwal October 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I really love your blog, Tyler. But why do you always shy away from explicitly criticizing the republicans for what they have cost the country, not to mention the intellectual nonsense they have fed their base, which may take decades to undo, if ever? I just don’t get it. Are they your source of livelihood? If yes, then fine. As an economist, you will usually argue over the smallest things which may increase efficiency (as you should), but you won’t critique the people who are destroying your beloved profession. Why? Is this what you wanted to do after becoming rich enough to be able to do anything you want? I don’t actually want you to allow this comment. I just wanted to ask you, as I don’t have any other avenue of contacting you. You make me mad almost every week, because I love your blog, and your sense of analysis, yet I don’t see why republicans are immune from the wrath of an economist who loves his profession as much as you do.

Chip October 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

System 1 thinking.

Lee A. Arnold October 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Tyler, your evil brother had better not be a Repub strategist! Let’s take it long, medium, short-term:

Long-term: The gov’t is going to be the slightly-larger Coasian megacorp, due entirely to the demographic bulge of elderly healthcare which starts to become fiscally difficult 15-20 years from now. So if Tyrone thinks that (a) the Repubs will allow their supporters to experience “less generous…Medicare benefits…as time passes”, or else he thinks that (b) reducing deficits NOW makes the debt in the future look scarier, … well then, Tyrone has obviously been hitting the bottle since Reid and McConnell ended the shut-down.

There is also the case that most people, from the Teas all the way over to Occupy, are feeling NO relief from the aggravations that (1) Wall Street is taking a larger share of the profits, in return for no additional “real” economic growth, and after a huge bailout; and (2) that inequality is increasing. But let these go for now, as Tyrone didn’t figure them into his long-term calculations.

Middle-term: Repubs are trapped within the rhetorical strictures of Thatcher-Reagan neoliberalism: “gov’t is inefficient”, “tax cuts pay for themselves”, “gov’t debt is dangerous”, etc. This stuff is nonsense, though we read it daily in comments here, and though many if not most Dems blabber it, too — although the Dems are more willing to entertain the thoughts of either gov’t or market solutions, on an empirical basis. Only the Repubs preach it, and only the Repubs have astroturfed a monster (the Teas) that believes it, as if it is theology. Therefore, an “if, then”: IF, as Tyrone writes, “In real terms government spending has been falling.  Sequestration appears to be permanent, or it will be negotiated away by Republicans in return for preferred changes in tax and spending policy”, THEN, as the Repubs wring up successes, they simultaneously run-out of the easy, simple, empirically-insupportable rhetorical juice that keeps their coalition together. It dissipates the electoral emotions, and makes discussion more complex, not simpler — a circumstance which favors empirical discussions, not theology.

And here in the middle-term again, Tyrone (and indeed Ezra) miss the rather important point that the Dem’s Great Learning of the last few years, is to finally capitalize upon that simplemindedness: to compel the Republicans to NAME, publicly, THE SPENDING CUTS, to pay for any tax cuts they want, dollar-for-dollar. Every time it comes up. You noticed how much the Republican senators publicly chafed at this: it works like a charm. And it is not going to go well for the Repubs, because there isn’t much remaining but entitlements and Defense. In this sense, the small-potatoes sequester may work in the Dem’s favor, by pointing beyond, to what will be at stake.

Short-term: The Repubs may hold their own in the 2014 midterms, may even pick up seats in the Senate. But this would be due more to previous conditions, e.g. demographics, gerrymandering, etc. And as others have noted above, it is also heavily contingent upon Obamacare being seen as a disaster, not as a success, or as a qualified success. Thus the next big battle will be over that perception. So expect to see the media and blog comments inundated by curiously untraceable stories about how bad it all is.

However the Repubs aren’t likely (at this moment) to return to the White House for a long long while — but that is a different discussion.

Careless October 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm

So who’s evil twin troll is this guy?

Richard October 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Beautiful.

Matt Roman October 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

“it is now considered common to believe and to argue publicly that Obamacare represents the end of freedom in our time”.

Every time I hear something uttered to that effect, it is done for a cheap laugh. Never fails…

Willitts October 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Tyrone and Tyler are both wrong.

This was not a “loss” or a “win” for anyone. This is business as usual posturing around political sticking points that rely on cooperation. Republicans got a black eye on their reputation with the voting public, but the voting public has the attention span of a gnat. Republicans annoyed the Democrats in Congress and got a few of the things Tyrone mentions, but the Democrats knew all along that they weren’t going to de-fund Obamacare.

Tyrone speaks as if the Republican Party (or the Democrats) have a carefully planned strategy – they don’t. They are both awash in different political preferences and power/attention grabbing that causes internal strife. It is safer to say that they are responding at the margin to whatever the other side is doing or saying. Remember the politician who described politics as ‘herding cats’? We give the cat-herder far too much credit. More generally, economists (especially macroeconomists) think of parties as monolithic machines moving pieces on a chess board. This may be convenient for modeling, but such models aren’t usually demonstrative of reality.

The market reactions were dumb money rushing out and smart money moving back in – nothing more. Anyone who has lived through several presidents knows that 11th-hour deals are common in these standoffs, and even if the clock passes midnight, it’s not the end of the world.

Tyrone is also right about the pit bull snarling, but both pit bulls snarled. We got an unnerving dissonance, but would we prefer to have a debt ceiling raised in absolute silence? We’re not going to have a civil war over this issue like the dissonance over slavery and states’ rights.

The can will be kicked down the road, and when it is truly an emergency, one party in power will take some steps to control spending and debt.

Really, I don’t know why people are spending so much time talking about this. It’s about as interesting as a radio broadcast of a drag race.

tpaine October 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm

True and nobly stated.
In that the “sequester cuts” (actually reduced spending levels) stay in place, the GOP won. That the ObamaCare Tax is still in place, the Democrats won.
Your take on “the last minute deal” was exactly so.
HOWEVER, we would NEVER have gotten to the point of a shutdown had the Senate Democrats EVER passed a budget at some point over the last five years.
They wanted ANYTHING to talk about than the miserably failed ObamaCare Tax.

John Quiggin October 20, 2013 at 12:11 am

You need to update your talking points. The Senate passed a Budget in March

http://www.budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/pressreleases—statements?ContentRecord_id=3d008093-a820-41d8-aff9-06606539256d&ContentType_id=40fa0d81-5955-4941-88e6-75ce8cfd67b4&98533c0c-fb7f-4c08-9a85-cdcbef5fc6c8&Group_id=2ae1491e-2251-4893-9fae-fdfc42eda2f3

The Republicans have rejected a conference ever since, and finally agreed to one as part of the debt ceiling deal.

Claude Emer October 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

The Republicans won but as we’re prompt to score another political match, we fail to see that their win, and indeed the very game itself is a loss for the country. Congressmen are elected to govern and what we’re doing by looking at everything they do in terms of who won this game is giving them a free pass at “antigoverning”. Who knew with all the money we spend on defense, all it takes to destroy a nation is a few elections?

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/10/18/imperial_understretch_and_the_fall_of_great_powers

Claudia October 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

interesting, but I’d prefer to hear Trudie’s take on this one. I worry more about the psychological fatigue and missed connections than who “won” the day.

Hmmmmmmmmm October 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Tyrone ftw. The Browser linked to this post.

Ethan October 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I’ve seen a few of these articles saying, well Obamacare will be proven to be bad, just let it take effect… And then what? Do you really think it will be repealed once it’s in? And do you think sacrificing people now is good to save people down the line? Not at all.

I like the format btw. :)

Joe Smith October 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm

The Republicans voted to increase farm subsidies so we know there is no principled opposition to big government or libertarian ideal driving their agenda. They just want government benefits to go to rich white people. If the economics profession and the media were not both corrupt and incompetent in equal measure the Republicans (in their current form) would have been wiped out in the last election.

mike October 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Ah yes, the media, stalwart defenders of otherwise indefensible Republicans…

Greego October 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm

“The Republicans voted to increase farm subsidies so we know there is no principled opposition to big government or libertarian ideal driving their agenda.”

Yes.

“They just want government benefits to go to rich white people.”

No.

“If the economics profession and the media were not both corrupt and incompetent in equal measure”

Yes.

“the Republicans (in their current form) would have been wiped out in the last election.”

No.

Bill October 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Interesting article. I haven’t seen this site before. I have a personal stake in this, as I am sure millions of other Americans do.

Two weekends ago I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that my health insurance premiums are increasing 290%. I had a catastrophic plan which I liked very much because it was cheap. It covered major illness and accident, which is the true role for insurance.

Unfortunately such a policy is no longer allowed under Obamacare because it doesn’t include mandatory essential services now required by the government such as maternity care and inpatient heroin addiction treatment that I don’t want but am now forced to pay for. I wish the Senate Republicans had fought for people like me as hard as Senator Cruz did.

Bill October 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

You must have some insurance policy, because a study of low premium, low benefit policies show that at least the Essential Benefit is already covered by (to the tune of 75% at the lowest end) by existing policies, making your statement unbelievable.

Here is a link: http://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/infostat/few-existing-health-plans-meet-new-aca-essential-health-benefit-standards/

You should look for another policy, or enroll in an exchange under a bronze plan.

Careless October 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

You didn’t understand your own link, apparently, which supports exactly what he wrote.

Patrick Henry October 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Borrrring. Couldn’t even read this. So what’s the bottom line? I suggest someone go to a writing class where they teach active voice and don’t insult the reader.

tyrone welfare cheat October 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm

S H I T L E R and HoBama – both used false names, were bastards, were homosexual deviants, were murderers, framed opposing parties, took advantage of stupid rotting empires and populaces, made their fortunes from ghost written false memorials, ruled their zombies with oratory, never did anything decent or had work before they usurped power, were controlled by satan and used sub-human leftists to destroy the god fearing millions before they destroyed their continents. Vile slimy muvverfu c k ers roasting in hell.

Richard October 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

You would fare better over at copblock.org.

mulp October 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm

But what did the Tea Party and Ted Cruz define as the Republican brand going forward?

Newt had the Contract on/for America. Reagan had his free lunch economics neverland vision.

Is the new Republican brand going forward “blame Obama”?

Reagan’s policies have been rewritten by conservatives into something he wasn’t – he would be defined as a leftist by Ted Cruz if Reagan was involved in Republican policies today. Obama has been trying to get Republicans to accept Reagan’s governing policies and meeting hyper partisan-opposition.

Imagine the House passing a law like the one Congress passed in a late 1982 lame duck session with Republicans still controlling the Senate, and Obama saying what Reagan said January 6, 1983. That law hiked the gas tax 125%, which Reagan minimized as “just a nickel a gallon, just $30 a year.” That gas tax hike was a good thing because it was going to create a third of a million jobs.

In April 1983, Reagan sang the praises of FDR and Social Security while immediately hiking taxes to pay for SS current benefits and reducing benefits slowly over a span of half a century – the Reagan SS benefit reductions are still not fully implemented.

Republicans are saying the Reagan entitlement reform model is unacceptable and they will never negotiate with any Democrat who insists on beginning with the Reagan template.

What if the Cruz dog catches the presidential car in 2016?

Is he going to immediately going to cut SS and Medicare and Medicaid and sell off public land and stop all subsidies to industries of all sort in exchange for allowing them to pollute without consequence while cutting taxes and balancing the budget?

Will Republicans have any corporate support if Cruz is the party leader?

Richard October 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Cruz may be objectionable, but I doubt he is stupid. He’ll play the base to stay in the senate for as long as possible, then get fat rich off the process.

AmorFati October 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I agree with Tyrone! If the widespread problems with the ObamaCare rollout persist well into 2014, many voters might come to view the GOP’s ill-conceived “defunding” strategy as a heroic stance against an unworkable law that has not delivered on what Obama repeatedly promised. If November 2014 comes around, and ObamaCare is still viewed by many as a disaster, the Dems will regret passing it on a strict party-line vote, since they will then suffer most (or all) of the blame for its failure. By contrast, both the enactment and subsequent repeal of the Reagan 1988 Medicare bill were bi-partisan efforts, so neither party could score points against the other for the bill’s failure.

Guan Yang October 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I would really like to see Tyrone’s explanation of why Napoleon’s retreat from Russia was a glorious victory.

John Quiggin October 20, 2013 at 12:33 am

Tyrone seems to have missed a critical point. If it weren’t for the shutdown shenanigans, the Repubs could have passed a “clean” CR at sequester levels, running well into 2014 and continued their refusal to negotiate on the budget the Senate produced in March. Now they’ve agreed to negotiate on the budget.

The fact that the Senate produced a Budget (a response to a previous Repub demand) suggests that the negotiations will be a repeat of the debt debacle with the Repubs being blamed for their absolute rejection of revenue increases

Richard October 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Agreement to negotiate is not negotiating. They haven’t even argued the shape of the table yet.

mike October 20, 2013 at 1:41 am

Interesting article.Thanks.

wdk535 October 20, 2013 at 4:10 am

PEEKED! Come on.

ounceoflogic October 20, 2013 at 7:45 am

Sequestration (and everything else) will be “negotiated away by Republicans in return for” open-faced bribes, a la Mitch McConnell.

America always polls as ‘increasingly conservative’ and then elects liberals. Such polls are intentionally misleading… and keep conservatives away on election day.

Democrats do not think Republicans are crazy, they say it so that America thinks Republicans are crazy. Ridicule is the #1 offensive tactic of progressives and they will mercilessly ridicule anything or anyone who disagrees with them. They do not fear another Ted Cruz filibuster… they look forward to it.

The good news for o’bamacare is that those whose benefits are reduced/withheld won’t long be around to complain, leaving us with only young, healthy, harvestable taxpayers, who don’t know yet, that they too are expendable.

In Tyrone’s long, long, long view, those wiley Rebublicans are just biding their time… knowing that the Socialist States of America will fail miserably in a hundred years or so… and then the conservatives will swoop in to rescue the remains. Me? I’m not willing to wait 100 years.

liberalarts October 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Here is some posturing from Mitch McConnell that will make it harder to use this event as leverage for the Jan 15 deadline:
“A number of us were saying in back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn’t,” Sen. McConnell said. “So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”

Steve October 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

We have been ALL OVER this topic on Common Cents…

http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Carey October 21, 2013 at 12:21 am

who cares? the US is now a 3rd rate country destroying planet earth. have sex now. party hardy. it’s all going down.

richard40 October 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

The article is right that the shutdown is nowhere near as bad for repubs as it apeared, and might be good in the long term, because:
1. Without the obamacare debate, the dems would have had us debating on whether to break the sequester, but now the sequester is more or less a given.
2. Remember the dems did not just reject defunding, which they could make a decent case for, they also shutdown the gov to avoid the 1 yr delay compromise. If the website disaster turns out to take a year to fix, and obama has to be the one to ask for the 1 yr delay, they will look like complete fools for not accepting the house 1 yr delay offer and avoiding the shutdown. And if obama does not ask for the 1 yr delay, and the website continues to fail, he will look even worse.
3. Everybody is now focussed on obamacare, so any problems with it, which might have been swept under the rug, will now have to make news.
4. The whole dem party had to come out to defend obamacare, to the extent of being willing to shutdown gov. It it now fails, it wont just bring down obama, but the whole dem party.
5. The dems now know the repubs are willing to put up a fight, this should help to deter them from pushing to break the sequester in the next shutdown fight in Jan.
6. The only bad point is idiot rhinos are still blaming the tea party for the shutdown, and accepting the false narratve that it is all the tea parties fault. If it was not for these faithless rhinos, this would have been a complete long term win for the GOP, even though it has apeared to be a short term loss.

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endorendil October 24, 2013 at 7:13 am

Tyrone proved his point by managing to get you to publish his rant. While I’m completely agreeing that the GOP lost, I do believe that losing can be a good strategy. Technically, exploding a nuke on your own territory is madness too: you lose the materials, you contaminate some part of it, and everyone knows what you’re up to. But it does lift a nation into a different category.
Pushing this analogy further: if Germany had succeeded in making a nuclear bomb before the end of WWII, it probably would not have been able to drop it from a plane or put it on a V2, at least not with a decent chance of success. So it couldn’t have used it to bomb London, Kiev or Moskau. But it could certainly have nuked Dresden (a lost cause at that point anyway), and that would probably have been enough to dissuade the allies from invading its territory. Crazy? Hell yes. Effective. Absolutely.

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