We are reminded of the old joke about a man who was asked why he kept pounding his head against a wall. He responded, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”
That’s about the only explanation we can come up for why Republicans keep threatening to shut down the government or default on the federal debt unless the Democrats give in on certain policy issues.
In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton and the state Legislature went to the mat twice over policy issues, giving government workers unpaid summer furloughs two years in a row. The result? For the first time in a generation, the GOP is completely locked out of power in the state.
Some would argue that it was Dayton who was being obstinate, not the Republicans, but that’s not how the voters saw it.
The same kind of brinkmanship has been taking place in Washington regarding raising the debt ceiling. Conservatives believe that a day of reckoning will soon arrive, if the national debt is not brought under control.
However, threatening to shut down the government or default on the debt is not something that Americans want their elected representatives to do.
Currently most congressional Republicans want to defund Obamacare in return for raising the debt ceiling, but they don’t have the votes to make it happen.
Furthermore, in 10 battleground states, a Crossroads GPS health care policy survey found that, even though 60 percent of the people in those states oppose Obamacare, by 58 percent to 30 percent, they oppose defunding Obamacare if it will result in even a temporary government shutdown.
The Republicans control only the House of Representatives, not the Senate or the presidency. They can protest Democratic policies mightily, but reality says at the end of the day, they don’t hold a winning hand. Until the economy deteriorates further, they will have to cave in to Democratic demands or risk alienating voters. Better to act like they are ready to lead by offering clear alternatives instead of threatening bomb-throwing tactics that just scare the voters.