Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Game over for GOP

l'ennui d'ennui/Flickr

Entering the ninth day of the federal government shutdown, the political positions of both parties are weakening, but the Republican Party’s position is eroding faster. As Tea Party members in the House hold GOP leadership hostage over the Affordable Care Act, federal services continue to abate and frustration grows among voters who elected this Congress to run the government.

According to an Oct. 2-6 Washington Post/ABC poll, 70 percent of Americans reported that they disapprove of the actions of congressional Republicans on the budget, with 51 percent disapproving strongly. That same poll shows that only 52 percent of Republicans approve of the budget strategy of the House and Senate GOP.

Due to the shutdown, meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is unable to investigate a deadly Washington Metro accident due to the shutdown, and President Obama did not travel to the key Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia, opting to have Secretary of State John Kerry fill in for him. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping were all in attendance.

Since the shutdown began, Obama’s approval ratings on the budget have improved, from 41 percent to 45 percent, with only 51 percent disapproving, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll. Congressional Democrats have fared worse than Obama but better than their GOP counterparts, with 61 percent disapproving. Simultaneously, 89 percent of Republicans disapprove of Obama while 89 percent of Democrats disapprove of congressional Republicans.

One reason for the continuing debacle could be that Speaker John Boehner predicted it less than twelve months ago. Just after Obama’s re-election, Boehner said, “Obamacare is the law of the land. If we were to put Obamacare into the CR (continuing resolution) and send it over to the Senate, we were risking shutting down the government. That is not our goal.”

While that may not have been the goal of the Republicans immediately following the 2012 election, it is definitely the goal of some of them now. Beholden to the small, exceptionally powerful Tea Party caucus in the House (and Senators like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul), Boehner had to go back on his words from last fall even though he knows this shutdown casts serious doubts on GOP chances in the 2014 midterms.

Obama seems to be holding Boehner to his earlier statements. In a White House summary of a Tuesday phone call between the President and the Speaker, Obama said that he “is willing to negotiate with Republicans (on the budget and deficit) … after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed.”

A factor in the GOP’s downward trend is the factional division within the party. Conservative Republicans approve of the House GOP’s handling of the shutdown 59 to 39 percent, and those who identify as “very conservative” approve 68 to 32 percent. But, for all Republicans who identify as moderate or liberal, only 44 percent approve of how Republicans in Congress have handled this situation, according to the same WaPo/ABC poll. On the Democrats’ side, 77 percent approve of Obama’s actions.

In an October 3-6 National Journal poll, 65 percent of respondents believe that any changes to the Affordable Care Act should be dealt with separately from the debt ceiling; the same goes for the Keystone XL pipeline (70 percent), cuts in domestic spending (60 percent) and changes to federal earned benefit programs, such as Medicare and Social Security (68 percent).

So, in practice, the polity despises the GOP strategy of a shutdown, but, even in theory, the public dislikes the idea of a minority party forcing concessions on the budget, health care or any issue by holding the full faith and credit of the federal government hostage. The GOP has lost this game, and unless Boehner agrees to hold a vote on a clean continuing resolution, they’re just a bunch of sore losers.

Zac Bears is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    Dr. Ed CuttingOct 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I am offended by the false premise that important things aren’t being done because of the “shutdown.” Take, for example, the cited “deadly Washington METRO accident” — I’d want to know why the NTSB would be investigating that in the first place, as it had nothing to do with transportation.
    The subway tunnel was closed and they were ripping up the tracks so they could be replaced with new ones. Something exploded causing a 40-foot piece of rail to strike a tradesman, killing him. This is a construction accident, a workplace safety issue — something that OSHA deals with, not NTSB.
    Actually, in our Federal system, it is something that the state government should bear primary responsibility for — and the fact that the DC government is so inept and incompetent to be virtually non-functional is irrelevant, this is something that THEY should be able to deal with, calling in the Feds if they get stumped, but they are the ones that are supposed to be doing this.
    And what the h*** does the NTSB have to do with any of it? It’s OSHA that has the regulations for stuff like monitoring Oxygent/Acetylene torch rigs so they don’t explode, not NTSB. It’s like the US Department of Education buying all the guns & bullets it did — WHY???
    We have an ever-expanding mosaic of Federal bureaucracies with overlapping responsibilities and we simply can’t afford it. Zac, I’m glad that the NTSB didn’t investigate this because then maybe people will read OSHA’s report and maybe listen to what the people who know something about construction accidents have to say about this one.
    Listen to what NTSB said: “the agency can only engage in those activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life or for the protection of property.”

  • D

    Dr. Ed CuttingOct 11, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Those of you who believe that “it’s a law” is good enough, might I remind you that Massachusetts still has (at least) two criminal sodomy statutes still on the books.

    The founders were clear — the HOUSE gets to decide waat it is willing to spend money on, and NoBama NoCare isn’t one of them. If the boy president is willing to shut down the entire government in a temper tantrum, fine, he’s the one who did it…

  • G

    Genghis KhanOct 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

    House Republicans first voted to fund all of government — except Obamacare. Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it.

    Then the Republicans voted to fully fund the government, but merely delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year. Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it.

    Finally, the Republicans voted to fully fund the government, but added a requirement that everyone live under Obamacare. No more special waivers for Congress and their staff, and no waivers for big business without the same waivers for individuals.

    Obama refused to negotiate and Senate Democrats refused to pass it. So as you can see, Republicans are the big holdup here.

  • C

    Chas HolmanOct 9, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Only ONE party has the ability to open Government this minute if they WANT TO. And it isn’t the Democrats.

    I almost ENVY future history students reading and studying about the great GOP MANUFACTURED financial crisis of 2013. The one that tossed good Americans deeper into a dark financial hole they had just started climbing out after being so callously tossed into in the first place.

    Something about even the THREAT of an INTENTIONAL default that get’s this Americans blood boiling.

    Some ‘patriots’ these Republicans turned out to be. They had no capacity to actually legislate once elected. Justr raise big money, work for special interests and campaign on the backs of the very people they are now willing to set out to pasture (glue factory) now to make their political points.