U.S. government reopens, avoids default

George Curry | 10/24/2013, 3:40 p.m.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law early in the morning on Oct. 16 that ended the 16-day government ...
President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Oct. 17. On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to avoid a financial default and reopen the government after a 16-day partial shutdown. Charles Dharapak

It continued, “In February 2010, when the Tea Party was less well known, the balance of opinion toward the movement was positive (33% favorable vs. 25% unfavorable). Unfavorable opinion spiked to 43% in 2011 after Republicans won a House majority and Tea Party members played a leading role in that summer’s debt ceiling debate.

“The Tea Party’s favorability rating has fallen across most groups since June, but the decline has been particularly dramatic among moderate and liberal Republicans. In the current survey, just 27% of moderate and liberal Republicans have a favorable impression of the Tea Party, down from 46% in June.”

While most tea party members represent safe political districts, there is little doubt that the latest fiasco has hurt the Republican brand, making them less attractive in the 2014 midterm elections.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found, “By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the last shutdown in 1995-96.

“Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.”

Reid and McConnell agreed as part of their deal to set up a budget conference committee assigned to put the country on a long-term path to fiscal stability. The panel will be chaired by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee. The budget conference committee is scheduled to issue its report by Dec. 13, three weeks before the new debt ceiling limit is reached on Jan. 15.

But there were no immediate indications that this committee will be any more successful than the Bowles-Simpson commission (the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform), named after Democratic co-chair Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, and Republican co-chair Alan Simpson, the former senator from Wyoming.

The special commission was appointed by Obama in 2010 to identify “… policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.” Although 11 out of 18 commissioners, equally divided by Democrats and Republicans, supported the group’s findings, that fell short of the 14 votes needed to send it to Congress for approval.

In the wake of another major deficit crisis, Congress created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the Supercommittee, in 2011. In addition to identifying $917 billion in cuts to accompany a $900 billion debt limit increase, the Supercommittee was given the task of developing a deficit reduction plan for the next 10 years. That effort also failed.

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline,” the Supercommittee said in a statement issued on Nov. 21, 2011. The Supercommittee was disbanded two months later.