Another Bait and Switch?

This morning’s reports on the House GOP’s serially revised fiscal strategies are a bit confused. Most of the MSM reporting has suggested abandonment of the whole government-shutdown-to-defund-or-delay-Obamacare gambit accompanied by a temporary debt limit increase linked to some sort of Republican-skewed spending-cut talks. Erick Erickson made the same assessment early this morning, and said the GOP was sowing the seeds for the creation of a third party.

But at the same time, the well-sourced Byron York reported the wind was blowing towards a maintenance of the government shutdown as a way to get conservatives focused on Obamacare to go along with a relatively “clean” debt limit increase. Politico‘s Jake Sherman reported the same thing a bit later.

What makes the talk plausible is that this approach pleases the wildest of the wild-eyed House GOPers, who spent months pushing the “Defund Obamacare” strategy and have more-or-less opposed the debt limit hostage-taking as a distraction, and also could pass muster with the White House (assuming the debt limit increase is indeed “clean”), which has never made the president’s signature on a debt limit bill contingent on reopening of the government.

It would be odd if the very House GOP leadership that developed the debt-limit-hostage-taking strategy to begin with, only to see their work pushed off track by the “Defund Obamacare” ultras, reversed course at the last minute and gave both the Tea Folk and Democrats what they both most urgently want. But I’m guessing at this point that John Boehner isn’t thinking very far ahead.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.