So, a band of tea-party Republicans led by Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Mike Lee (UT) – and backed by groups like FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and Club for Growth – pushed a risky strategy to defund ObamaCare that led to a partial government shutdown. As a logical matter, President Obama and Senate Democrats were equally culpable for the shutdown; they could have avoided it by approving one of the House-passed bills that funded the government while amending the president’s health care law. But that was unlikely. The media and public saw the GOP as more culpable, and the GOP caved. ObamaCare glided away unscathed.
Then came the inevitable recriminations between “defunders” and their detractors. If I may paraphrase and/or embellish: The shutdown was a failure! No it wasn’t! You’re stupid! You voted for ObamaCare! Each camp blames the other for the outcome, and for not being sufficiently devoted to fighting ObamaCare.
To put my cards on the table, as a median-voter-theorem enthusiast who opposed the defund strategy before I supported it, I think it’s too soon to judge whether it was a failure. As of today, it has produced no gains, and ObamaCare opponents saw their poll numbers slip.
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