An Update: GOP Shutdown Fever

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Think of it this way: The political party that insists government doesn’t work is also the group constantly threatening to shut down the government as if they’re trying to prove their thesis by forcing it to come true.

That is to say, if the government doesn’t break, Republicans will work tirelessly to correct that failure to fail.

We heard some talk about the Continuing Resolution, but the White House and Congress hammered out an agreement to keep the doors open, the lights on, and the war going … until December 11.

As such, Steve Benen’s summary of emerging shutdown news ought not come as any surprise:

Republican leaders in both chambers agreed months ago that a pre-election government shutdown simply wasn’t an option. There were some on the far right who tried to fan some flames, but it never spread.

Republicans did not, however, rule out a post-election shutdown. Aliyah Frumin reported earlier:

A group of Republican senators – led by Marco Rubio of Florida – sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and are calling on him to oppose any spending legislation for a program that’s part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act – a move that could potentially result in a government shutdown. […]

If the House refuses to allow the provision into the spending bill – which would be vehemently opposed by the White House – a stalemate and government shutdown could occur. To avoid a shutdown, lawmakers will have to pass new spending legislation in the lame duck session before Dec. 11, which is when the current continuing budget resolution expires.

The fact that this is happening yet again is obviously tiresome. It was just two months ago that far-right congressional Republicans were making threats about a new shutdown – not to be confused with the previous GOP shutdown – and for Rubio and his allies to start making a new round of threats is unfortunate.

The question has to do with the risk corridor, a program to protect insurers under the ACA should they find themselves in an extraordinary statistical situation in which too many of their policyholders build up too many claims. Aliyah Frumin explained for msnbc:

msnbcThe argument goes like this: Under Obamacare, insurance companies must sell policies to everyone equally, regardless of pre-existing conditions, so there is a chance that some insurers could wind up with a larger-than-expected number of unhealthy customers. The risk corridor provision provides protections from that possibility until 2016. The cost is covered by other insurance companies, which pay into the risk corridor fund when they set their own premiums much higher than was needed to cover their expenses.

Proponents argue the provision will help level out premiums and smooth over entry into the program as insurers learn how to accurately price policies in the new marketplace.

The Congressional Budget Office, according to Frumin’s report, suggests the program will save the government some eight billion dollars in payouts over the next three years. And making sure an insurance company taking on a large number of new policies doesn’t get burned, and along with it the rest of the company’s policyholders, seems potentially wise. The counterargument? We dont like the ACA, so screw the private sector and its effing policyholders!

And this, apparently, is worth forcing a government shutdown?

Here’s the thing: Would you hire a job applicant who told you, during the interview, that the job didn’t need to be done and, besides, couldn’t be done, anyway?

Or the next step: Would you hire that applicant if he told you that he wanted to use the job you gave him to wreck the company?


Benen, Steve. “Rubio & Co. eye new round of shutdown drama”. msnbc. 9 October 2014.

American Society of Military Comptrollers. “House passes Continuing Resolution to keep government running until December 11”. ASMC Online. 17 September 2014.

Frumin, Aliyah. “Another government shutdown on the horizon?”. msnbc. 9 October 2014.

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