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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Fog of War

Byron York reports on an interview with a GOP House member about the shutdown.  The member says that the leadership was surprised by the rise of Cruz and the intransigence of the Democrats
The congressman began with an anecdote from the Civil War. "I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn't intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it," the congressman said. "That's basically what's happening now in a political sense. This isn't exactly the fight I think Republicans wanted to have, certainly that the leadership wanted to have, but it's the fight that's here."
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 Even after the events of August, and the rise of Cruz forced House Republicans to take notice, GOP leaders had little understanding of the course that the conflict, both inside the House Republican conference and with Senate Democrats, would eventually take. "I never thought defund, and honestly, I never thought delay, would work," the lawmaker said. "I think the Democrats very much need the exchanges to come on and work to finally create a constituency for [Obamacare]…so I never thought they would agree on that."
Still, the lawmaker thought Senate Democrats, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, would make some sort of concession on a lesser aspect of Obamacare. "I do think, though, when Boehner sent over delay and [repeal of the] medical device tax, I think he thought he'd probably get back medical device, and that would have probably been enough right there," the congressman said. But Reid and the Democrats steadfastly refused to consider any change to Obamacare, surprising Republicans again. "When [Boehner] didn't get medical device, I think he did something he didn't want to do, which was send over the member health care [the Vitter amendment barring Congress from receiving special subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges]. And I think he did that largely because he thought [Democrats] were trying to jam him." When Boehner lowered his demands to include a delay for just the individual mandate — not for all of Obamacare — Republicans thought Democrats would be open to that more modest proposal.

"Instead, it's no, we're not going to negotiate, we're not going to negotiate, we're not going to negotiate," the lawmaker said. "Which means effectively you're going to try to humiliate the Speaker in front of his conference. And how effective a negotiating partner do you think he'll be then? You're putting the guy in a position where he's got nothing to lose, because you're not giving him anything to win."