The creeping sense of crisis as the federal government shuts down is understandably real but also makes it difficult to think about the long-term. How will this mess look ten years from now? Fifty?
History will rightly interpret the shutdown of 2013 in the context of the hyperpartisan passage of Obamacare in 2009. The ACA’s economic and budgetary impact are debatable at best, but it has been a political disaster. Here’s POLITICO:
No major law of the 20th century — not Medicare, nor the 1957, 1964 and 1965 civil rights and voting rights acts, nor the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act nor Social Security — passed the Congress by anything like the narrow, partisan margin of Obamacare.
Indeed, Obamacare’s passage was brutally partisan, which caused a backlash in both the minority party but also in the public at large. President Obama will be blamed for opening this wound, and also for creating the seed bed for the representatives (key word) who are so hostile to the law today. They did not emerge spontaneously — they were elected precisely to counter his partisan violence. And they are the majority party now. Any president with a shred of bipartisan sense or leadership acumen would be working on a compromise. Instead, we have a case study in failed executive leadership.
It is sad. It didn’t have to be this way. But this too shall pass.