Judging from the coverage this morning, it looks like Senate majority leader Harry Reid is not going to buckle in the showdown with the Tea-Party-led House Republicans. Good. This needed to have happened at the end of last year following Obama's landslide election win and the GOP's pathetic showing in November.
There are still scenes left to play out in this drama as it unfolds today in D.C. Absent a bargain of some sort the government will shut down tomorrow. Here -- this is from Jeremy Peters and Jonathan Weisman's story this morning, "Senate Action on Health Law Moves to Brink of Shutdown" -- is what we can expect today:
Republican lawmakers said on Sunday that the House leadership had one more card to play, but that it was extremely delicate. They can tell Mr. Reid he must accept a face-saving measure, like the repeal of the tax on medical devices, which many Democrats support, or they will send back a new amendment that would force members of Congress and their staffs, and the White House staff, to buy their medical insurance on the new health law’s insurance exchanges, without any subsidies from the government to offset the cost.
Republicans expressed certainty that for all the discomfort a shutdown would inflict on Capitol Hill, Democrats would not risk it to protect their own benefits.If the Tea Party caucus is willing to settle for this -- a repeal of the tax on medical devices -- then there is a chance a deal could be reached. It would be unfortunate because it would maintain the GOP penchant for budgetary brinkmanship as a negotiating tactic, and it would guarantee further drama on down the line as the House Republicans continue their attempts to nibble away at Obamacare. But it's not clear that the Tea Party is willing to set its sights so low. Tea Party Republicans feel as if they have already given up a lot over the weekend by agreeing to a one-year delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act rather than its de-funding.
And on the other side of the aisle I think it has finally dawned on the Democratic leadership, and quite possibly even the conciliator-in-chief, that negotiating with the House Republicans in the face of threats to shut down the government or default on the sovereign debt is a losing proposition.
Even if a deal is struck today that avoids a government shutdown tomorrow, rest assured that an even larger conflict is coming our way in a couple of weeks with the vote to raise the debt ceiling. That's why my thinking from last week -- that a shutdown would be avoided -- has changed.
I now think that it has dawned on the Democrats that it's better to have the House GOP shutter the government in the near term, thoroughly discrediting Republicans to a broad majority of the public and thereby undercutting them going into a debt-ceiling standoff.
Barring a complete capitulation by the Tea Party -- or turnabout by Speaker Boehner to allow a clean bill without any anti-Obamacare chicanery -- the federal government is headed for a shutdown.