Chickens | Raucous Caucus | Tom Cushing | |

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By Tom Cushing


Uploaded: Sep 30, 2013

I've been thinking about chickens, that most fowl of foodstuffs, this past week. Those birds hold a significant place in our lives – we consume 8 billion of them annually, Purdue tells me (the University, not Frank, the Tough Man of the same pronunciation), along with 50 billion of their eggs. They're also deeply woven into American idioms, whether they are in pots or in games -- or 'counted too soon,' 'crossing the road,' or 'coming home to roost.'

Last week, I wrote that the nation had been invited to partake in yet another game-of-chicken by the Congressional Republican caucus, per its approach to the government shut-down and debt ceiling matter. I should have picked a different chicken idiom. I also mistakenly conflated the current resolution to keep the government running (October 1 deadline) with the much more serious debt ceiling deadline of roughly October 17, when the US government runs out of money and defaults on its obligations.

In the meantime, the GOP has doubled-down, calling for a suspension of the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a ObamaCare) which became law three years ago, now, and a separate laundry-list of concessions to win their votes on the default issue. As a result, I now believe we are witnessing a slow-motion process of 'chickens coming home to roost.' And if the Dems do anything to interrupt that process, they deserve to go hungry.

Here is how it will play out. The GOP will continue to tie its votes on the Continuing Resolution to ending the ACA, precipitating a rolling federal government shutdown, beginning October 1. At first, it won't be so bad, but as a few days grow past a week, many Americans of all stars-and-stripes will be inconvenienced and become annoyed.

Then, as Default Day begins to loom, the global financial markets will react – the Dow will fall steadily at first (it's already begun) and at an accelerating rate – because Business Hates Risk. Nobody knows for certain what the default would do – it's never even come close to happening until recently -- but the consequences range from serious-to-dire for the American economy, markets, credit and credibility in the financial and broader world.

When that happens, the GOP ranks will break, because its plutocrats (thanks, Mark!) who underwrite the process with $millions in vast disproportion to their numbers, will demand it. Those good conservatives love their principles, but not as much as they're attached to their principal, plus interest. They will call off their zealots, the votes will proceed without those dicey blackmail elements, and order will quickly return. They will rationalize that the ACA really isn't So Bad (and they'll be right). But the power and unity of the fractious GOP coalition will be broken.

Now, if that's so, why are they doing it at all? I believe it's a last-ditch effort to head-off ObamaCare, which is now finally going into full implementation. That implementation will be relatively smooth in states with 'exchange' market places, like California – indeed, it will be an utter non-event for the 80% of Americans who have coverage at work, or Medicare. It will be quite popular with self-insurers who will save big on their premiums (personally, for instance, I'll save about $300/month for the same coverage, sans any subsidy). The states that lack exchanges will have to catch up, lest their citizens forfeit the increasingly evident advantages of the ACA.

When THAT happens, folks will wonder what the fuss was really all about. They will come to understand that all that obstructionism was because the GOP knew that if ObamaCare got implemented, it would be popular. And a good thing. All their doomsday predictions would look silly, at best. And the electorate will begin to understand that they've been poorly represented.

Most Americans can recognize extortionate politics when they see it. I believe it runs against the grain for most people, so that if it's done, it had better be mighty important. ObamaCare, as implemented, will not be the demon bogeyman it's been crack-potted (crack-piped?) to be. These realizations will be made over the next year, and they will be felt in the 2014 elections. Those contests are won within narrow marginCebWFs, usually between 45% and 55%.

There are a lot of us chickens. And they/we will come home to roost in the polling booth.

Synopsis: The GOP will lose the budget fights, and ObamaCare will fully implement. The sky will not fall, despite Chicken Little's best efforts. Old CL will return to the private sector, and quite possibly enjoy affordable health care.