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I was wrong.
As the continuing resolution fight approached, I expected House Republicans to cave. I expected Boehner to make a half-hearted attempt to use debt ceiling, instead of continuing resolution, as leverage to stop Obamacare. And I expected Republican Senators to make a stand.
But that’s not what happened.
In reverse order, Senate Republican leadership ran away from confrontation like schoolgirls spying a snake. Led by Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, and Missouri’s Junior Senator Roy Blunt, the GOP attacked Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz instead of Obamacare.
I’ve already written how despicable, lame, and cowardly Senate Leadership has been. Frankly, I don’t want a Republican majority in the Senate if it’s a bunch of self-serving pansies. I’d like to see McConnell, Blunt and crew visit their Obamacare-exempt doctors for testosterone replacement therapy before the UN gun control treaty comes up for debate.
Strategic Thinking Says Stay Away From Debt Default
Based on several boneheaded moves by Boehner in the past, I expected the House to punt on the CR and, instead, fight Obamacare with the debt ceiling. While I’m not a fan of increasing the debt limit, I’m not a fan of defaulting on debt, either. Two thumb rules of strategy tell us why.
First, if you have to take a risk, take it early. The best demonstration of this was Tom Oborne’s famous fail in the 1984 Orange Bowl. In that game, Nebraska needed two touchdowns and three points-after to win. That meant, if Nebraska scored two unanswered TDs, Osborne must go for two point conversion after one of them. It didn’t matter mathematically which touchdown was followed by the two-point attempt.
What did Osborne do?
He chose to go for the one and then the two. If both attempts were made, the order in which they were made becomes irrelevant. If the one-point conversion was missed but the two-point was successful, here too the order is irrelevant and the game ends up tied, with Nebraska getting the championship. The only difference occurs if Nebraska misses the two-point attempt. Under Osborne’s plan, that results in the loss of the game and the championship. If, instead, they had tried the two-point conversion first, then if it failed they would not necessarily have lost the game. They would have been behind 31– 23. When they scored their next touchdown this would have brought them to 31– 29. A successful two-point attempt would tie the game and win the number-one ranking!*
Source: Dixit, Avinash K.; Barry J. Nalebuff (1993-04-17). Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life (Kindle Locations 832-838). Norton. Kindle Edition.
Since the debt limit deadline is after the CR deadline, gamble with CR.
Second, take risks you know over risks you don’t. We’ve been through budget-based shutdowns at least three times in the past. We have never defaulted. No one knows how a US default might go. It could be a meaningless blip. It could trigger global depression and war. No one knows.
House Republicans Show Their Mettle
My last of three big errors in predicting how the Obamacare fight would unfold embarrassed me. I grossly underestimated House leadership resolve. Or maybe I underestimated the influence of Ted Cruz. Or the power of grassroots when backed by groups like Heritage Action.
But here we stand. After the Senate punted, the house boldly asserted its solidarity with the majority of Americans who want Obamacare stopped.Tonight, the House will pass a continuing resolution that delays Obamacare for a year, restores military cuts, and other wonderful things.
Just two weeks ago, many of us were bombarding House members, including my Representative Ann Wagner. I thought at the time the House was wink link.
As I said, I was wrong.
Boehner and crew have stiffened while the Senate Republicans softened.
So this post is a long way to say “thank you” to House Republicans. They realize that a government shutdown hurts less than Obamacare. In fact, the worst thing about the shutdown will be the anticipation. That shows courage, consistency, and compassion.