Blinksmanship

As John noted last night, congressional Republicans are moving toward a showdown with President Obama over defunding Obamacare. The House is poised to pass a continuing resolution that funds government operations beyond September, but does not include Obamacare. The Senate will pass a CR that funds Obamacare.

After that, it’s a question of who blinks first, and whether the blink will occur before or after a government shutdown. Call it a “blinksmanship.”

Conservatives who believe that Speaker Boehner and company should refuse to blink can cite the findings of a Rasmussen poll that 53 percent of voters favor having a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans agree on what spending for the health care law to cut.

But the Democrats aren’t going to back away from their signature — and arguably only significant — accomplishment of the past five years. So the real questions are: (1) what percentage of voters would favor a shutdown that persists because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree and (2) who would be blamed for that shutdown.

The first question answers itself, and not just because of the denial of government services. An extended shutdown would, in all likelihood, tank the economy.

As to blame, it would, of course, be shared primarily between Obama and House Republicans. More blame would likely fall on Republicans. They, after all, will be the ones who disturbed a status quo that won’t look so bad when government services aren’t forthcoming and the economy takes a hit.

Moreover, Obama doesn’t have to face voters again. House Republicans have a rendezvous with the electorate next year.

That’s why I expect that Boehner and company will be the ones to blink, and do so pretty quickly.

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