Congress appears to be on its way toward passing a deal that will end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit, at least until next year. But it's tough to find any winners.
It looks like the Twin Peaks Crisis of the government shutdown and threatened Treasury default is really over. It’s always possible that something could jam the process at the last minute but right now the compromise agreement between Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky appears set to clear Congress and reach President Obama’s desk as early as Wednesday evening.
With the end in sight our thoughts have (naturally) turned to who won and who lost as a result of the weeks-long standoff. Here’s a preliminary scorecard that we reserve the right to reconsider.
None that we can see. White House spokesman Jay Carney said this on Wednesday and it’s quite possible he’s right. The fiscal crisis of fall 2013 has only increased the disregard in which the rest of America holds Washington.
The Republican Party’s poll numbers have plunged to record lows, but numbers for Democrats have fallen as well. Mr. Obama’s job approval rating has reached a new low in the RealClearPolitics rolling average of major polls: 51.4 percent now have an unfavorable opinion of his actions.
Yes, the Senate compromise leaves the GOP with virtually nothing new to show for the shutdown and default crisis. But is that victory for the Democratic Party? Spending levels remain locked at sequester levels, much lower than Democrats would like. The agreement only keeps the government open until Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. That means it’s possible we’ll be back in the same fight next year.
Democrats think that the recent unpleasantness has at least killed the GOP’s appetite for using the debt limit as leverage in policy disputes. As left-leaning blogger Greg Sargent explains, the theory is that by refusing any meaningful concessions in exchange for a debt limit hike this time, Obama has “driven home that GOP debt ceiling extortion will never be rewarded again.”
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