Both Republicans and Democrats are sick of the stopgap game on the budget. But that doesn't mean they're ready to play nice, National Journal's Major Garrett argues. On the contrary: stopgap fatigue is making a shutdown look even more likely.
The issues is that some conservative House Republicans don't want to pass a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year if the legislation doesn't come with riders that defund health care, public broadcasting, and Planned Parenthood. After passing two short-term bills to keep the government going, Congress now has till April 8 to come up with a plan for the last half of the fiscal year. Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall says now is the time "to pick a fight" over President Obama's environmental policy, Garrett reports. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer sounded frustrated with the extended budget fight. "This is a lousy way to run a railroad. What is your alternative to make a deal? What we don't know is what you can pass. You don't know what you can pass. Your caucus is deeply divided."
Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler writes that House Speaker John Boehner has two options: freak out the Tea Party by offering concessions to Democrats in the budget, or do what the right wing wants and chance a shutdown.
At The Washington Post, Jonathan Bernstein says that odds are a shutdown is going to happen. Bernstein doesn't see much middle ground for Democrats to compromise with conservative Republicans who only voted for the most recent three-week stopgap--sans riders that would defund Planned Parenthood and the like--because it was temporary. The only way Republicans can win, he writes, is by declaring victory as-is, with the cuts they've already gotten. That said, he doesn't think they're going to do it:
I think we’re in for at least a short shutdown, and more likely a repeat of the 1995-1996 disaster--with Republicans re-learning the hard way the lesson that the unpopularity of the specific cuts they want to make is far more important politically than the popularity of general, unspecified cuts. In other words, we’re getting to the point where if Republicans don’t declare victory, they’re heading for a major defeat.
Mother Jones's Kevin Drum argues that the buget-cut-happy Tea Party can either lose now or lose later, because eventually the government would have to start running again, which will only happen with the kind of compromise Tea Partiers will hate.
Given that this almost has to be the case, wouldn't it make more sense for Boehner to compromise in the first place and avoid the humiliation of giving in down the road? In a rational world, sure. But in the tea party universe, he can't. The forces working here will force Boehner into the worst of both worlds: he won't assert control over the tea party faction from the start, which is bad, and then he'll end up caving in to Democrats a few weeks or months down the road, which is worse.