In the aftermath of Senate Democrats going nuclear yesterday (changing the filibuster rules), some forecasters have looked ahead to its effect on the continuing resolution to fund the government, which expires on January 15.
Some analysts believe that increased animosity between senators could make it harder to strike a deal. In Morning Money today, Guggenheim’s Jaret Seiberg put the odds of another government shutdown happening at 40 per cent. However, such analysis ignores the incentive structure for Republicans.
Here are 5 reasons why another shutdown isn’t in the cards:
1. It was a colossal failure the first time. This is stating the obvious, but the public rightly blamed the Republican Party for the shutdown. Their poll numbers cratered and political commentators began seriously talking about the chances of the Democrats taking over the House, something that had been unthinkable just a month earlier. They already tried this strategy and it blew up in their faces. They won’t do it again.
2. It would distract from Obamacare. This was one of the main mistakes Republicans made in October. Conservatives thought the shutdown would shine a light on Obamacare just as it launched. Instead, the light was cast on the asinine strategy to defund the law. Now, Obamacare is in an even worse position. The website is still not working, Obama’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” promise has proven false and he was forced to make an administrative fix to his bill that has infuriated insurers. Republicans need to do everything they can to keep the focus on Obamacare.
3. Most conservatives don’t want another shutdown. Many Tea Partiers have learned their lesson this time. One of the leaders of the first shutdown, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has already come out and said that he does not think that passage of the next continuing resolution should be tied to Obamacare. Given Lee’s prominent role in the first shutdown, his pivot is important.
4. Republican leadership won’t allow it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters that there would not be another government shutdown. He more than anyone was aware of the damage it caused the Republican Party. Given the tough reelection fight he faces next year, McConnell will avoid a second shutdown at all costs. For his part, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is already drafting legislation for a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequester levels until mid-April to give the budget negotiators more time. Democrats won’t like this, but if push comes to shove, they won’t shut the government down over it.
5. It’s an election year. It will only be two weeks into 2014, but many moderate House Republicans will be looking ahead to their re-election campaigns. A government shutdown would be a disaster for them. Some Republicans may feel pressure to move right from primary challengers, but many others will be worried about their poll numbers cratering yet again. These are the Republicans who were bystanders in the previous fight. They won’t be this time around.
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