It’s difficult to understate the pointlessness and utter folly of the Republican-led shutdown and fiscal crisis that has now concluded. For all their bluster and bravado, Republicans achieved none of their stated policy goals. The ACA will continue to be implemented (assuming the Administration can fix the deeply flawed federal insurance exchange) and people will receive coverage beginning next year. They did manage to inflict billions of dollars in collateral economic damage and deprive the country of a functional government, successfully completing the GOP’s year-long rebranding effort. The party’s new motto: “Burn! Burn!”
The only thing that may prevent a repeat of this sad chapter is the dawning realization among more reasonable Republicans that things are different now. Obama and Democrats will not bargain away major policy achievements under threat of economic ruin; not now, not next year, or the year after that. There is a deal to be had on tax and entitlement reform if Republicans can budge on revenue, but it will require abandoning the Tea Party ideologues. I’m skeptical this will happen anytime soon. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to muddle through the next few years until the political dynamic shifts in a fundamental way.