Jonathan Bernstein, at The American Prospect, tries to game out how the politics will unfold after a hypothetical government shutdown, but he ultimately decides that a shutdown is unlikely. Because we’re dealing with both a potential shutdown and a crisis over raising the debt ceiling, I think we need to consider this as a package deal. How likely is it that both scenarios will be avoided?

I continue to believe that we’re facing one of two situations. Either Boehner decides that he is willing to make a deal with Pelosi for Democratic votes, or we are going to probably have a government shutdown and almost definitely default on our debts. Bernstein doesn’t really entertain my scenario, in part because he’s assuming a shutdown for the purposes of his analysis.

I am pretty confident in my prediction because I don’t think Boehner can get his caucus to back down and pass a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling hike, and I don’t think he is willing to be responsible for defaulting on our debts. And his current strategy might make a government shutdown less likely, but the way he plans on proceeding makes a default more likely because he is arguing that the debt ceiling offers his caucus more leverage.

The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time before Boehner either runs out of options or decides to take preemptive action. Whether he cuts bait before the government shuts down or after is hard to predict, but I assume he won’t wait until after he’s destroyed our credit rating.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at