Reporting Tim Kephart
WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The plan first floated by Florida Senator Marco Rubio to shut down the government if the Affordable Care Act is not defunded is gaining traction among House Republicans and could put the United States on a dangerous path towards fiscal Armageddon in the next two months.
A total of 54 Congressional members have signed onto legislation to enact a government shutdown unless Democrats defund Obamacare. The plan carries quite a bit of political peril for Republicans, but the well-organized, more conservative tea party is pushing the party towards the edge on a government shutdown.
The last time a government shutdown was enacted by Congress to try to force the president’s hand was in the 1990’s. That time, Republicans were roundly criticized for the move and paid for it in later elections. Current polling indicates a majority of the public will blame Republicans again for a government shutdown.
A secondary problem facing the GOP is who exactly wants the law to fail.
According to the latest Pew Research poll on the Affordable Care Act, 53 percent disapprove of the law. However, 27 percent of that group said lawmakers should “do what they can to make the law work as well as possible.”
On the other hand, 23 percent of the 53 percent want lawmakers to do everything they can to make the law fail. Further, according to the Pew Poll, 43 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners want their representatives to make the law fail; while 37 percent said they want leaders to make the law work as well as possible.
So, of those opposing the law in the latest Pew poll, less than a quarter want the law to fail and not even a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners want representatives to do what they can to make the law go down in flames.
Still, talks between the White House and Senate Republicans have collapsed and Republicans in the House continue to lean towards a full scale government shutdown.
House GOP leaders have floated a plan to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for three months and a companion bill that defunds Obamacare. The Senate could then decouple the bills and pass the spending bill while rejecting the Obamacare bill.
But, those wanting a government shutdown and their supporters have called this a shell game and are pressuring Congressmen and Congresswomen to not support the leadership plan. It was later pulled from consideration, but not eliminated completely.
If leadership can’t get a majority to support a plan, House Speaker John Boehner may have to turn to Congressional Democrats to help get a spending bill passed. But, House Democrats would likely ask for more concessions in order for them to help the GOP leadership.
Meanwhile, as the House tries to come up with a plan; the White House has said it will not negotiate over upping the debt limit in a few weeks, despite a plan from the GOP to avoid a government shutdown and provoke a battle over the debt limit.
The markets are also watching the chaos in Washington. While most economists believe Washington will get its act together just in time to avoid a shutdown or default; a failure to do so would likely bring major economic repercussions.
A government shutdown could lead to delayed payments for Medicare, delayed Social Security checks, delayed military pay, etc. All of that would contribute to a loss in consumer spending, which in a consumer driven economy could plunge it back towards recession.
A more serious debt default, according to leading economists, could plunge the entire global economy into a deep recession and possibly worse.