The standard narrative is the country has been saved from the “debt ceiling-default-zombie assault” abyss by an unbending President Obama and Congressional Democrats who persevered over the unhinged ultra-Conservative wing of the once respected Republican Party. The last two weeks have been hard on all of us here in Connecticut with 17 percent of the federal government being put on paid holiday and one Head Start program being short of cash in Bridgeport.
Several members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation — the ones who are millionaires in their own right — donated that lost time to various charities while those Congressmen who live paycheck to paycheck, kept their joy to themselves.
The political class and its cheerleaders in the media agree that President Obama won the battle against House Speaker John Boehner. But there was one Republican who won big — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, who got $2.9 billion for a (damn) dam project for simply taking a meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV.
Obama did win, but it is a short-term victory and an empty accomplishment. The damage his policies have done and are doing to the national economy will continue until 2015. People have been led to believe that a robust stock market and a marginal rebound in the housing industry will propel the economy in time for the 2014 midterms. Our economy might merrily limp along, but uncertainty over free money, borrowing, and the true impact of Obamacare will mean more lean times.
Obama made the argument about closing the government. Republicans couldn’t settle on the danger of short ($1 trillion) and long-term debt ($17 trillion) or how the effect of Obamacare was confusing individual applicants, scaring the business community, and further retarding economic growth.
For a few moments, Obama stumbled with his absurd closing of open-air national parks and monuments. But the President effectively shamed Republicans with his cool self-serving style that is unequaled.
Republicans tried to argue about events that have not come to harvest. Their arguments over Obamacare income verification, subsidies to well-paid Congressional staff, and software problems got yawns and puzzled stares from the general public. But, Republicans did get income verification and kept the previously negotiated cuts in federal spending — sequestration — that got little notice from the Obama-applauding media. Democrats labeled sequestration “Draconian” and predicted great mass suffering if it was allowed to be implemented. Turns out those trees are falling nicely in the forest.
For liberal Connecticut political junkies and partisans, there were the predictable smirks about the hayseed Republicans from inland America trying to undo two national elections. But across the Hudson River, there are millions of people who do understand what is happening and they demand action by their elected representatives. We should thank those Republicans for showing some spine when it has become all too easy to simply sigh and push the green button.
Connecticut supposedly “lost” $14 million in federal salaries, but all of those workers will be made whole. Even the state of Connecticut will get its $800,000 back for covering the Head Start program in Bridgeport. Democrats will continue to argue that any future sluggish growth can be blamed on those crazy, corn-fed Republicans who lost their minds to make a meaningless point.
Long term, the Democrats shouldn’t get too giddy or ahead of themselves. President Obama is only effective when he creates his own crisis to solve. Republicans don’t have to attend every fight that the President initiates. Over the next several months, many companies will see if this holiday season will provide the bounty needed to show profits.
But the implementation of Obamacare will become more real to everyday people. Higher premiums, fewer professionals, cuts in Medicare — are all predictable outcomes that will change the political dynamic very quickly.