OK, so it looks like the federal government is going to shut down Tuesday because of the inability for Congress and the President to agree on passing legislation to keep the federal government operational and the related linkage by Republicans of de-funding the healthcare reform act passed in 2010.
But what is fueling this development?
Is it a principled argument by Republicans for reducing the deficit? Hardly. Republicans are the least credible party on that issue. Remember the 1980s and the 2000s? Right. Is it really a desire to kill the healthcare reform act? Maybe, but that I think is a tactic for the bigger reason.
No, I think the answer for the impasse is: Republican electoral politics.
Sure, the Rs want to embarrass, stymie and obstruct Obama as much as possible to weaken him. It's been quite clear since 2008 that they will oppose anything he wants or decides no matter what. But that's not what I'm talking about. After all, Obama cannot be elected again.
Congressmen and women.
Right now, the Republicans own the majority in the House of Representatives. That party also has a small but highly active and influential core of true right wing believers. Teach creation in schools, no gun laws whatsoever, anti-abortion in all instances, anti-gay rights, no taxes (literally) and on and on. These are the things the group hold dear and focus their zealotry.
You may have heard of this group. They're called "The Tea Party," and they are strong enough, dedicated enough and organized and mobilized enough to target and defeat Republicans who do not toe their extreme line. This is particularly true in mid-term elections when popular turnout is lower - elections such as what are coming up in 2014.
Think about it. The current Rs in the House are all up for re-election in 2014. They know the Tea Party has the ability to target them next year by running negative ads, fielding a challenger and turning out in droves come election day. So, they do NOT want to be seen as "weak" against Obama or "caving" on any of the hard core believer issues. Rather, they are compelled to orchestrate a very public act of defiance. They literally fear for their seats, and that's enough to puff out their chests and hold the economy hostage by refusing to deal with the President or the Senate.
And they've picked the elimination of the healthcare reform law passed in 2010 as an issue to go to battle with..to make dang sure the Tea Party is paying attention.
To be clear, the Republicans in the House have made a strategic decision that they'd rather crash the economy through government shut down than risk losing their seats next year by dealing with the Democrats to move forward on economic issues.
In the end, the Republican Party is captive to the Tea Party and therefore the US government and our economy are too.
Its a short term play by the Rs, but I think either a government shut down or a defunded Obamacare law will cost the Republicans a longer term price by alienating even more people and limiting their long term electoral potential.