For my part, there appears to be an eminently reasonable approach to the stalemate that has resulted in the Federal government shutdown: postpone the Obamacare penalty for not carrying insurance for one year. People would still have the option to buy the insurance, and receive subsidies (perhaps reducing them a few ticks to balance the penalties that won’t be collected). It would balance the Administration’s unilaterally postponing the Obamacare employer obligation for one year. In fact, I believe that House Republicans proposed such an approach, but Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, rejected it out of hand.
Meanwhile, on top of the government shutdown (which has in fact left about two-thirds of the government up and spending), we now face a deadlock over the debt ceiling. We went through this a couple of years ago, and if we had adults in charge, I wouldn’t be particularly worried. If the government cannot borrow money, the 14th Amendment means that its debts are sacrosanct. The government must pay its debts, which includes paying interest and principal on its bonds, and paying contractors and employees for services rendered.
Everything else is fair game.
If adults were in charge, they would follow the 14th Amendment, pay the debts, then prioritize the other expenses (aid for states and localities, ongoing procurements and government services that can be shut down, foreign aid, and–the elephant in the room–entitlements) and pay what they can from the remaining funds. It’s what the rest of us do when we have a case of the shorts. In fairness, the immediate effects would not be good for the economy. But we would be facing reality, which is the first step to actually fixing things.
Alas, we don’t have adults in the room anymore. One of the disconcerting parts of the Syria debacle a month ago is that the only person who seemed to have his head on straight was Vladimir Putin. Our President and Secretary of State came across as damned fools.
That’s the real scary part.