On Friday, Senate Republicans will meet with President Obama at the White House to offer their plan to end the fiscal stalemate. Splitting with the House GOP, the Senate GOP plan would lift the debt ceiling, likely for six months, and fund the government for one year, allowing it to reopen. The House plan increases the debt ceiling for only six weeks and continues the partial government shutdown.
In exchange, the Senate GOP wants the federal budget set at a level that includes the sequester cuts, something Democrats have already agreed to. In addition, they want a repeal of ObamaCare’s medical-device tax and a process for income-verification for ObamaCare subsidies. Repealing the device tax is good policy, but it only really benefits a narrow special interest. Income-verification of subsidies is obviously a good policy, but both measures are pretty “small ball.” They hardly balance out another half-trillion in debt and spending without any cuts or reforms. It would also allow the continued, full implementation of ObamaCare.
“Where we are is completely unacceptable,” GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte tweeted Friday. “We need to resolve this and get the government open and also resolve [the] debt limit issue.” Ayotte’s “completely unacceptable” is that the government remains partially shutdown.
The Senate GOP plan is a way to end the stand-off, but not in a way that extracts any meaningful compromises from Obama and the Democrats. According to polling, the GOP is in a better position today than it was during the last government shutdown in 1995/96. Obama, also, is in a far worse position than President Clinton was, with his approval rating dipping to 37% in a recent AP poll.
Still, the Senate GOP would rather get through than fight. It is not where the public is. It event isn’t where the House GOP Leadership is.
The GOP enters what looks like the final days of this round of fiscal debate divided. Obama and the Democrats are unified. I think we all know how that will play out.