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What Did We Learn From The Latest Federal Budget Crisis?

What Did We Learn From The Latest Federal Budget Crisis?

I’m a fiscal conservative, so I abhor the economic policies of the Obama administration. However, I think it is safe to say that he is one of the best politicians of our time.

Most people earn the right of being called a good politician by finding compromise, by enacting key parts of their agenda over time, and finding the consensus to do it. Obama isn’t that kind of politician; his stance on the continuing resolution/debt ceiling angered some folks because he refused to negotiate, but that’s essentially been his stance since taking office.

His message for the last year has been – “go ahead shut it down. I dare you. I will destroy you; surrender or be annihilated.” I can understand the defiance of House members, who essentially have been told that their powers granted by the constitution are no longer valid. Still, they were no match for the combination of the Obama administration and the media.

The House didn’t surrender without a fight. They were bound and determined to address the deficit and some of the underlying causes to its continued growth, as well as some of the major problems with Obamacare.But it was understood going in that the Obama administration held the leverage in that it could make the government shutdown as painful as possible for the American people, who would quickly grow weary of the impasse.

Republicans began with a losing hand, but they thought they could force the Obama administration or the Senate leadership to the negotiating table, which most pundits thought could get them a few concessions. Instead, they lost everything. Not only did they lose the battle of public perception, but didn’t get a single concession. In fact, what they won was the right to have Harry Reid write the agreements on both the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution.

One pundit remarked that the Democrats didn’t get everything they wanted. After all, Reid wanted $1-trillion increase in the debt ceiling, and had to settle for only $986 billion.  

Obama is most effective president ever

The Republicans were embarrassed and outmaneuvered; it’s obvious they don’t know how to even be a token opposition to the policies of the Obama administration. Conversely, Obama will go down as the most effective president ever for enacting his policies. This is remarkable, considering that the country is deeply, and almost evenly, divided.

Obama was looking to radically transform the direction of this country for the long term, both structurally and fundamentally. He talked about bipartisanship and unity in his campaigns, but when transformation is your goal, compromise is just an unwanted delay. And he has had the political acumen to avoid having to compromise. The end result is that simple things like just passing a budget, or more difficult things like taking over 1/6 of the economy via Obamacare, were either ignored or rammed through without even symbolic input from the opposition. 

Some will argue that it isn’t so much Obama’s political prowess as Republican incompetence, but I think it’s Obama’s political prowess. This debate is a classic example: the deficit is exploding, the world has seen the impact of out-of-control spending and growth of government in the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and the collapse of the economies in statist countries like Greece, Spain, and Iceland. Everyone understands we can’t continue to spend the futures of the next generation forever – eventually the money will run out.

Despite Obama’s claims of recovery, the U.S. economy remains in shambles, unemployment is historically high, and America’s competitiveness and stature in the world has eroded dramatically.   This recent budget fight even coincided with the rollout of Obamacare, which all the polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of. Even the biggest fans of socialized health care are calling the Obamacare rollout an unmitigated disaster. Even in this environment, Obama won a complete victory without making a single concession. 


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The Republicans will inevitably do a lot of soul searching. Already, they’re debating whether the more conservative elements of their party, the moderate leadership, the media, or simply their lack of being able to tell their story effectively is at fault. The thing is that nothing was solved; the fundamental problems that created this battle weren’t addressed, just kicked down the road a few months.

Supposedly, there should be negotiation on the important matters. But why should Democrats compromise when the Republicans provided them with their complete and total surrender?   

President Obama will go down as one of the most powerful politicians of all time. Democrats controlled the government his first two years in office and every piece of his agenda was enacted, pretty much on party-line votes. When Republicans gained control of the House as a voter reaction to what was perceived to be overreach, everyone assumed compromise would rule the day. Instead, Obama ignored Congress and continued to implement his agenda without legislation, budgets, et al. It’s a strange confluence of events that allowed this to happen, and it’s difficult to imagine any other president or politician ever having such ability again.

Most amazingly, however, is the simple math. The U.S. is spending far more than it takes in, and the debt is growing to the point that it threatens the Republic’s very viability. This isn’t disputed, but we continue to spend more and do nothing to change our financial standing.


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