What now for the Repub­li­cans?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

No su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers of clair­voy­ance were needed to pre­dict the out­come of the lat­est Wash­ing­ton drama. In ap­prov­ing a deal to re­open the fed­eral bu­reau­cracy and re­store the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s abil­ity to bor­row from our grand­chil­dren’s fu­ture, Congress and the pres­i­dent did on Wed­nes­day what they al­ways do: Put off dif­fi­cult choices un­til a fu­ture date. Rinse, re­peat.

The cy­cle of false drama and last­minute res­o­lu­tion (or lack of res­o­lu­tion) is why the na­tion is $17 tril­lion in debt. The ques­tion for Repub­li­cans now is, what are they go­ing to do about it? When gov­ern­ment fund­ing ex­pires once again on Jan. 15, Mr. Obama knows that all he has to do is keep his party in line, refuse to ne­go­ti­ate, and Repub­li­cans will sur­ren­der again. Sur­ren­der mon­keys, in­deed. Based on Wed­nes­day’s vote, House Repub­li­cans are split, 144 for do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive, and 87 for the sta­tus quo. A party di­vided that sharply can’t beat a united op­po­si­tion.

House Repub­li­cans must find some com­mon ground on which they are all will­ing to fight to­gether, or the cy­cle will never be bro­ken. Those who want to limit the size of gov­ern­ment have a lot of work ahead of them. They will go into next year’s bat­tle with bud­get se­ques­tra­tion in­tact. Democrats in­tended to use the shut­down to break through the spend­ing caps that were the only good to come of the show­down in 2011. The se­ques­tra­tion’s au­to­matic bud­get re­straint, in­suf­fi­cient it may be, is locked into the lat­est con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion, though the Democrats will no doubt try again to undo it in the com­mit­tee that Wed­nes­day’s deal tasks with work­ing out the de­tails. For­tu­nately, this com­mit­tee is un­likely to be any more suc­cess­ful in ac­com­plish­ing any­thing this time than the su­per­com­mit­tee was in Novem­ber 2011, when it col­lapsed, un­able to forge a deficitre­duc­tion deal.

With the bud­get and debt fight off the ta­ble, Repub­li­cans can re­fo­cus pub­lic at­ten­tion on the un­fold­ing dis­as­ter that is Oba­macare, par­tic­u­larly the job losses, lost insurance cov­er­age, and soar­ing premi­ums and de­ductibles. The news is no longer dom­i­nated by the croc­o­dile tears shed by fed­eral em­ploy­ees who went one whole pay pe­riod with­out a pay­check. They al­ways knew this was a tem­po­rary de­lay, and now they re­al­ize they’ll get a pay raise to com­pen­sate for the un­bear­able “trauma” this un­ex­pected paid va­ca­tion may have caused them.

The tri­umphal Mr. Obama — “What, me worry?”— can now turn his at­ten­tion to push­ing his self-pro­claimed “No. 1 pri­or­ity,” im­mi­gra­tion “re­form.” The good news is that Repub­li­cans, af­ter be­ing so roughly treated by the White House this week, aren’t likely to be in a mood to cut another deal with the man. The pres­i­dent has burned too many bridges to ex­pect them to come to him.

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