What happens if Republicans shut down the government?
The problem for Republicans is that it would give President Obama a perfect soapbox for talking endlessly about all the benefits of ACA, and the drama of a shutdown means that plenty of people would actually be listening. So not only would Republicans look petulant and childish if they repeatedly passed bills that either failed in the Senate or got vetoed, but Obama would spend the entire time talking about how he'll never let the Republican Party take away your right to insurance even if you have a preexisting condition. And he'll never let them take away the small-business tax credits. And he'll never let them reinstitute the doughnut hole. Rinse and repeat.
Not only would Republicans lose the showdown, but they'd quite possibly end up making ACA popular for the first time in its existence. I suspect the saner elements of the GOP leadership are pretty well aware of this. They might feel like they have to make a pro forma effort to repeal health-care reform, but if they shut down the government, I think they'll pick a different excuse.
It's always hard to predict how these things will go, but that's generally why politicians don't like to try them: It's high-risk, and the reward is terribly uncertain.2010 09 20 14 10
By Ezra Klein | September 20, 2010; 2:10 PM ET