John Boehner

We hear claims of impending doom for the Republican Party because of the partial government shutdown.  Gallup says the GOP’s approval rating is at its lowest point at 38%, and that is something we hear over and over and over again.  All of this in hopes that Republicans will surrender.  They also point to a poll that shows a majority of Americans blame Republicans for the current shut down.  They clamor with glee with Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) insistence that the shutdown is Republican’s fault.  Establishment Republicans assail the Tea Party.

Unfortunately the media that likes to hype doom and gloom for Republicans seems to ignore President Obama’s approval rating dropping to 37% with a 53% disapproval rating in a recent AP poll.

Relax.  Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight said Republicans will be just fine.

He makes six points, here are the four relevant ones:

  1. The media is probably overstating the magnitude of the shutdown’s political impact.
  2. The impact of the 1995-1996 shutdowns is overrated in Washington’s mythology.
  3. Democrats face extremely unfavorable conditions in trying to regain the House.
  4. The polling data on the shutdown is not yet all that useful, and we lack data on most important measures of voter preferences. (He said we lack generic balloting and he questions how much people’s votes would change over this one issue).

Be sure to read his entire article.

I believe the worst thing that could happen is for Republicans to come out of this government shutdown without a major concession from President Obama and Senate Democrats whether it is related to health care reform, entitlement reforms and/or spending cuts as they negotiate the debt ceiling.

If Republicans come out empty-handed that would be a failure and then they will have to worry about the base.  I’m concerned that some GOP governors could make things difficult for Congressional Republicans.  Recently Governors Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), Dennis Daugaard (R-South Dakota) and Dave Heineman (R-Nebraska) called on Congress to get on the same page to end the partial shutdown.

Daugaard cited economic uncertainty, Heineman blamed both parties, and Branstad said he has been able to work with a split legislature in order to pass budget bills (this is true, but Iowa also has a state law requiring a balanced budget and we do not have the fiscal mess the Feds have).

Branstad, to his credit, challenged President Obama and his stance on health care reform.  “He takes the position, ‘No, we won’t change a thing, that’s off the table.’ Frankly, it is unaffordable and unsustainable and there needs to be significant adjustments made in it,” Branstad said. “I don’t think you are going see a full repeal, but I do think there needs to be significant, wholesale changes.”

I’m not ready to give up on a full repeal, but I recognize it’s not likely and I doubt the Republican leadership’s resolve.  At least Branstad pointed out President Obama’s refusal to negotiate on the matter.

Congressional Republicans should not worry about the political cost, but instead focus on what it will cost the country if we don’t deal with Obamacare and continue out-of-control spending.   They should stand firm, but it seems like they’re ready to surrender.  It seems that is all the current Republican leadership is good for.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

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