As the shutdown grinds into its second week, I thought it might be useful to lay out why I think Republicans should look for a graceful exit as quickly as possible, rather than trying to use the shutdown -- or God forbid, the debt ceiling -- to extract unlikely concessions.
Coincidentally, Ms. Megan McArdle decided to write about the shutdown yesterday, the better to educate and guide her devoted followers. When the financial industry is at risk, Bankgirl is always there to lend a hand. But remember, folks, Bankgirl is a libertarian. She hates evil government giveaways. And don't get her started on student loans, when they are taken out by people who are not Megan McArdle. She is not some schmuck Republican, with their tacky religious tchotchkes and polyester pants and state college diplomas decorating their tiny suburban offices. She follows her own, elite, rules.
I know that many of my conservative readers do not believe this, but I share many of your goals. I would like a smaller government that does less stuff. I oppose the Affordable Care Act.I do solemnly swear that if McArdle were to find it financially advantageous to sign up for "Obamacare," she would do it in an instant. Just as she (almost) voted for Obama despite his advocation of health insurance reform before he took office. Yes, McArdle "would like a smaller government that does less stuff" for other people. She, herself, has no problem taking what her nation offers her. She just doesn't want to do anything in return.
Yet I am opposed to the shutdown because I think it does real institutional damage to the country, and because I don’t think it will work. It is damaging the Republican Party’s prospects, while not noticeably increasing the chances that government will shrink.
I understand the frustration. Government is much bigger, and stupider, than it would be in a world designed by me.The biggest problem with our wannabe elite today is that they really believe that. Matthew Yglesias thinks that he can make decisions for us. Megan McArdle thinks that she can run major organizations more efficiently. P. Suderman, boy gamer extraordinaire, in between movie reviews thinks he can cogently analyze the health care industry. If everyone would just get out of their way, they could do everything, be anyone, have anything. If only....
It does too much, and too little of it well. Democrats are working on a huge expansion of an entitlement state that we already can’t afford.
But -- as I frequently say to liberals who get huffy about my opposition to Obamacare -- the fact that there is a problem does not mean that there is a solution.Video or it didn't happen. We are supposed to believe that liberals frequently flounce over to Megan McArdle and get all huffy in her grill about "Obmaacare," only to be schooled on their political naiveté and fuzzy thinking. By Megan McArdle.
The fact that you are really angry about what has happened over the last four years and passionately wish to undo some of the damage does not mean that a way exists for you to do so. Do not fall prey to that fatal political syllogism:
1. Something must be done.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, this must be done.
That logic is, after all, what brought us the giant Rube Goldberg apparatus of Obamacare.
I thought the Heritage Foundation brought us the giant Rube Goldberg apparatus of Obamacare?
McArdle goes on to earn her daily bread by taking us along on a ride on her train of thought, which is less a Taggart Transcontinental Express and more a choo-choo you would find at a petting zoo.
Reason the First: People wouldn't like a shutdown. The mean old liberal media blames the right, so the right is losing politically, the poor innocent babies.
Reason the Second: Obama will shut down the government before he gives up on "Obamacare." The right will be standing by helplessly, of course, unable to stop Obama from refusing to stop them.
Reason the Third: We should be attacking "Obamacare" as it is rolled out, not the national debt. Priorities, people! Reducing the debt doesn't put money in her pocket. Attacking "Obamacare" does.
Reason the Fourth: The markets will get spooked and lose money. Can't have that. McArdle has a 401k.
Reason the Fifth: People wouldn't like it when they become affected by a shutdown. This presupposes that the government is helping people and that they want it to continue helping them, which only makes sense but pretty much invalidates the entire raison detre of the Republican party.
The question, then, is how to do it gracefully. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to ask for something you can get, and then settle for that. Be realistic about what Democrats are going to agree to -- and the answer is not “completely dismantling Obamacare,” however wonderful that would be.McArdle does not understand the mindset of her own people. She is thrilled to get anything, no matter how much or how little. The sheer pleasure of accumulating wealth and possessions is enough for her. Other people, however, cannot afford retail therapy and therefore are a little more demanding of their political party. They want what McArdle already has, and if she and her fellow elite suffer financial pain in the process, well, suffering is good for the soul.