Is the shutdown "the beginning of the end for Washington"?

The normally more reserved Ron Fournier thinks so.  The National Journal analyst foresees a “Millenial revolution” on the cusp of the breakdown in functionality in Washington DC, and the GOP tearing itself to pieces will give them the opening to … do something:


Step back. Try for a moment to extrapolate what a government shutdown and discredited U.S. currency could do to the economy and the public’s faith in government. Think beyond next year’s congressional elections or even the 2016 presidential race. Factor in existing demographic and social trends. I did, and this is what I concluded:

1. The Republican Party is marginalizing itself to the brink of extinction.

2. President Obama can’t capitulate to GOP demands to unwind the fairly legislated and litigated Affordable Care Act. To do so would be political malpractice and a poor precedent for future presidents.

3. Despite the prior two points, Obama and his party won’t escape voters’ wrath. Democrats are less at fault but not blameless.

4. This may be the beginning of the end of Washington as we know it. A rising generation of pragmatic, non-ideological voters is appalled by the dysfunctional leadership of their parents and grandparents. History may consider October 2013 their breaking point. There will come a time when Millennials aren’t just mad as hell; they won’t take it anymore.

I think he’s wrong on a couple of points, but hits the nail on the head later in his piece on another point, to which I’ll return in a moment.  For right now, though, consider the countertheory that the “Millenial revolution” has already taken place, and that it was manifest in Barack Obama’s two elections.  He’s a little too old to be a millenial himself (whereas Bill Clinton really was a “boomer”), but he won his first election largely on the surge in millenial voters who bought into his vision of “hope and change.” Arguably they made the difference in 2012, too, part of the “low-information voter” set that Obama pursued with an entertainment-media strategy that worked around the traditional news outlets that serve older, more connected voters.


What has that bought the millenials? Despite Obama’s promises to be a centrist, he’s governed as a determined leftist, mostly diffident to actual negotiation and compromise.  The job market in the so-called recovery has been the worst in a generation for young workers, who are now carrying far more college debt than ever.  Now, thanks to ObamaCare, they will be forced into comprehensive health insurance at rates far above the benefits they will eventually use, which subsidizes older and less healthy Americans in one of the weirdest wealth-transfer schemes ever.  When those bills come due, the disillusionment will be dramatic.

That leads us to Fournier’s better point:

Remember the central promise of Obama’s presidency: He will change the culture of Washington. What happened? Obama has not only been taken hostage by the worst of Washington, gridlock and pettiness, but he seems to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. His criticism of the GOP last week was as petulant as any GOP talking point. While announcing historic negotiations with Iran, a regime that sponsors terrorism, Obama said he wouldn’t bargain with the GOP. …

The strange thing is that Obamacare could be a good issue for the GOP. It is an unpopular law freighted with complexity. Successful implementation requires precision from an Obama team that has proved itself weak on the nitty-gritty of governing. One could argue that the GOP is fighting Obamacare at its peak strength – prior to implementation. Why not wait for it to go into effect, seize on the flaws and, as Cole says, win some elections?


That was my argument today, too:

A huge amount of political damage awaits the White House and Democrats running in midterm elections. Health-care prices are skyrocketing over 2013 premium rates, a fact that HHS tried to dodge by claiming that the exchange prices came in “lower than projected,” when in fact they had compared the prices to projections for 2016, not 2014. Former Romney adviser Avik Roy and the Manhattan Institute ran the actual numbers and found that prices rose across the board by more than a third, and by 97 percent for younger men (55 to 62 percent for younger women), and that subsidies won’t make up the difference for many if not most of them.

The White House then tried to argue that the monthly premium rate would be negligible under the exchanges no matter how much they’ve gone up. Obama himself said that the exchanges would allow consumers to buy “good health insurance for the price of your cellphone bill or less.” The Associated Press pointed out, though, that the “bronze” plans Obama referenced required a lot more out-of-pocket costs for consumers as well. “Those who choose bronze will have to pay 40 percent of their medical bills out of pocket through deductibles and copayments,” the AP wrote in its fact check. “A family’s share of medical costs could go as high as $12,700 a year, or $6,350 for individuals, on top of those cell-phone-like premiums.” The upcoming price bomb will hit in the three months of open registration for the January 1 mandate deadline, when all of these expectations of lower premiums and better coverage come crashing down on the 85 percent of Americans who had health insurance four years ago, when 87 percent of those liked their coverage just fine.

At this point, why should Republicans fight to delay that illusion-busting event for another year? Without control of the Senate, the GOP cannot force a delay or defunding of ObamaCare. Their best strategy now is to get Democrats on the record re-endorsing the individual mandate and the congressional exemption provided by the White House to the unpopular bill — and then get out of the way.


If anything, this entire episode may either provide millenials with more rationalizations for apathy or a gigantic distaste for big-government solutions, or both.  I’d look more for the Millenial Backlash than the Millenial Revolution, and don’t expect Republicans to bear the brunt of it, especially if they can get out of the way of ObamaCare’s flop.

Besides, government shutdowns have happened quite a few times before, and the political world kept right on turning. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Jazz Shaw 4:01 PM on December 03, 2023
Jazz Shaw 8:31 AM on December 03, 2023