Thursday, February 22, 2018
Opinion

Column: Shutdown as a matter of pride

Want to know why the shutdown — and the coming debt ceiling fight — will be so difficult to resolve? Just ask Marlin Stutzman, a conservative congressman from Indiana.

"We're not going to be disrespected," he told the Washington Examiner's David Drucker. "We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."

Stutzman is right.

The fight over the shutdown has become unmoored from any particular policy demands the GOP believes it can secure. It's become an issue of pride and politics. At this point, Republicans simply need something so they can tell themselves, and their base, that they didn't lose. They don't know what that something is, exactly. But it needs to be something.

By the same token, the Democrats literally can't give them anything without losing. Not until the shutdown ends, anyway. And President Barack Obama has added that the Democrats can't give them anything until the debt ceiling is raised. "Until we get (the shutdown) done, until we make sure that Congress allows Treasury to pay for things that Congress itself already authorized, we are not going to engage in a series of negotiations," Obama said.

It's this dynamic that makes 2013 so much more dangerous than 2011.

The negotiations in 2011 weren't zero sum. For one side to win, the other didn't have to lose. That's because the negotiations in 2011 were over policy — in particular, over a broad deficit reduction package. Since both sides wanted to reduce the deficit, it was conceivable that both sides could walk away feeling like they'd won some and lost some.

That's not true in 2013. The battle this year really is zero-sum. For one side to win, the other has to lose. And that's because this fight isn't over policy. It's over principle. In particular, it's over whether to legitimate for the GOP to demand concessions in return for keeping the government open and paying the country's bills.

Unlike a grand bargain over the deficit, that's a "yes/no" question. As Stutzman puts it, Republicans either get something out of this, or they end up feeling humiliated. Democrats either hold firm on this, or they end up feeling like they've created a terrible precedent that'll make governing impossible going forward.

A few weeks back Hill staffers mused about whether there was some way to manage negotiations such that Republicans could credibly tell their base they were negotiating over the shutdown and the debt ceiling and Democrats could credibly say they weren't negotiating over the shutdown and the debt ceiling.

As of yet, nobody has discovered how to create that quantum dealmaking structure. It's possible nobody will. But that means one side or the other has to clearly lose in order for the shutdown to end. And neither side wants to lose. Nobody wants to be disrespected.

© 2013 Washington Post

Comments
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18