GOP Plan for Small-Batch Appropriations Makes No Sense

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 1 2013 2:29 PM

GOP Plan for Small-Batch Appropriations Makes No Sense

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George Kaplan's gonna be mad if he can't visit.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

It seems that the new buzz from House Republicans is about picking up on an idea Ted Cruz floated to do more artisanal small-batch appropriations to keep certain especially photogenic aspects of the government funded. In the first instance, that seems to mean bills that would allow for the continued operation of the D.C. government, for the continued funding of veterans’ benefits, and for the continued operation of national parks.

The idea, presumably, is that this will make the continuation of a shutdown of the rest of the government more tolerable and thus strengthen Republicans’ hands.

Except like much of the GOP’s thinking about this, it fails the test of basic logic. The entire premise of shutting the government down over Obamacare is that shutting the government down is bad and has bad consequences. The consequences were supposed to be so bad that Democrats flinch from the horrors being inflicted on the American public and agree to repeal the Affordable Care Act. For that to work, two things need to be the case. The first is that middle-class people must suffer from the absence of government services. The second is that middle-class people must turn their rage against the uninsured and demand the repeal of Obamacare rather than turning their rage against Republicans. 

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The problem for Republicans is that the shutdown is clearly—obviously and unambiguously—their fault, so the public's rage is much more likely to turn against them. The small-batch funding idea is supposed to tone that rage down. But absent the rage, there's no leverage. 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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