- - Monday, November 4, 2013

As tempting as it is to focus on the Obamacare rollout problems, it is important to get the facts right about the recent government shutdown, given its likely impact on the 2014 elections. The liberal media persisted throughout the crisis in portraying the House Republicans as being unwilling to accept anything less than the “repeal or delay” of Obamacare, while portraying the Democrats as holding firm in preventing Obamacare’s demise. In fact, although repeal or delay was and remains a long-term goal of House Republicans, their actual demands were considerably more limited.

The Democrats’ position was the demand that the House fund a law whose provisions had been significantly altered by the president — even though the president himself had previously acknowledged that the changes he made by executive order would normally have required congressional approval. By their logic, the president could rewrite a law passed by Congress as he saw fit without having to gain congressional approval. In the end, the Democrats declined to even consider a proposal that would have funded all of Obamacare (and reopened the government) in return for the minor concession of eliminating the medical devices tax. Instead, the Democrats chose to slam the door in the face of the Republicans and then blame them for the shutdown, which cost the nation an estimated $26 billion in lost GDP.

It was known from the outset that the outcome of the standoff would be determined by public opinion. The Republicans knew the liberal media would misrepresent their position, and they took pains to protect against that eventuality. To counter the liberal-media position, the Republicans needed their Senate contingent to support the view that the House should not have its prerogatives trampled upon, and was entitled to some concessions in return for funding a law they had not authorized in its current state. Alternatively, they found that a small group of their own senators chose to parrot the liberal-media line.

VICTOR CHOLEWICKI

Washington