One Crisis Leads to Another

Justin Wolfers is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. Wolfers is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization.
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Here's a crucial fact that has gone largely unnoticed over the past few days of congressional posturing: The whole debate has centered on whether the Republicans will sign on to a bill to fund the government for a couple of months in exchange for a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare. (To be precise, it's either six weeks of funding in the Senate proposal or 10 weeks in the House bill; neither chamber is offering to fund the government in any serious ongoing way.)

The point is, none of this debate has been about giving the president the room to enact any major part of his program. It isn't about guaranteeing the American people fiscal stability for any reasonable period. It isn't an end to political brinkmanship, but rather a virtual promise of yet another round of demands in a couple of months. And indeed, it isn't even an offer of a couple of months of peace, given that demands are already being made in advance of hitting the debt limit later this month.

I have no doubt that the Affordable Care Act presents important policy issues. But does knowing the full extent of the offer being made by the Republican Party change how you view the reasonableness of their demands that, in return, the president defund or delay Obamacare?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Justin Wolfers at jwolfers@wharton.upenn.edu