I respect -- but disagree with -- those who believe that the Republican Party is on a suicide mission by refusing to agree to either a continuing resolution or a lifting of the debt ceiling without some meaningful inroads into Obamacare.
If I understand it correctly, they are convinced that it's a dead-end mission guaranteed to hurt the GOP, mainly because polls indicate that people will primarily blame the GOP for the shutdown (and government default, should that occur).
The polls do indicate that Republicans are being blamed more than Democrats, but not nearly so disproportionately as Republicans were blamed for the 1995 shutdown. And keep in mind that Obama's personal approval rating is an abysmal 37 percent, which has to be related to this impasse and Obama's behavior.
We also must recognize that the public, including those responding to these poll questions, has been told that apocalyptic consequences will flow from any government shutdown and even worse with a default.
Plus, who in the world would respond that he wants a government shutdown? No one does. But how many would be willing to tolerate a temporary shutdown if it could lead to favorable policy changes on Obamacare and other taxing and spending issues?
Now, consider how the public's opinion might be affected by having witnessed and experienced the shutdown and discovering that the promised catastrophe did not eventuate. Would that damage Obama's credibility? He's amassing a track record on these matters, including his similar fraudulent hysteria over sequestration, the positive deficit effects for which he now takes credit.
Consider further that the main stumbling block between Democrats and Republicans is Obamacare, which is unambiguously unpopular. Its implementation is occurring at this very moment, and it is a train wreck, a nightmare, a mess and living proof that President Obama cannot be trusted. (Not a solitary thing he promised about this law is true, and it is plain for everyone to see.)
But what about a default by the government on its payment obligations?
Most agree that an actual default would be enormously damaging to the markets and to the nation's financial stability. But what is the likelihood of default?
It seems most agree that a failure to lift the debt ceiling would not result in the United States defaulting on its obligations. We would still have enough revenue to pay all our interest on the debt and some three-fourths of our other (non-debt) government obligations. Just to be doubly sure of this, the House passed the Full Faith and Credit Act, which would allow the Treasury to pay all public debt obligations and Social Security benefit payments after the debt ceiling is reached. So far, the Democratic-controlled Senate has not passed this bill.
It's not just The Heritage Foundation that is issuing this opinion. Moody's Investors Service opines, "We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact."
In the meantime, unlike all of his predecessors, President Obama has refused even to negotiate with Republicans. An imperious call to House Speaker John Boehner to tell him he won't negotiate is not negotiation. Republicans, not Democrats, have passed all kinds of clean bills and sent them to an uncompromising, unyielding president.
So, let's review. The polls are not only slanted and limited to a fixed snapshot in time but also being followed by real events that will, in all likelihood, change people's perceptions against Democrats. The people are watching as Obama's promises of disaster are not materializing, and he is showing himself to be arbitrary, capricious, mean-spirited and petty in his selective closings and openings of government services and highhanded in refusing to negotiate. His boasts about Obamacare are all being revealed as dishonest and deceitful, and Obamacare -- the main point of contention in all of this -- is proving itself a monumental nightmare way beyond what could be called a glitch or a computer issue. A default, though it would be bad, is very unlikely to occur as a result of our failure to increase the debt limit.
On top of this, Republicans have an entire year before the 2014 elections to make their case that Obamacare was worth fighting over and that they are trying to bring the nation back to fiscal responsibility. They will be able to point to the problems with Obamacare, the president's petulant behavior, his overall irresponsibility and his intransigence on fiscal matters.
Obama has been able to escape personal accountability for his fiscal misconduct, but when it comes to Democrats in Congress, he has reverse coattails, and his Democrats will pay the price in 2014 as they did in 2010, even if the public, on balance, marginally will blame the GOP for the shutdown and debt ceiling impasse.
President Obama not only has been lying about Obamacare but also is trying to scare seniors over Social Security payments that will not terminate and the global markets over a government default that will not occur.
While some are squeamish over an improbable catastrophe over government shutdowns and unlikely defaults, when will we face the fact that a far more permanent fiscal Armageddon is inevitable if we don't begin, in very short order, to reduce our ruinous deficits and reform our entitlements, an Armageddon that would -- not might -- radically reduce our children's prospects for prosperity and freedom?
Surely, this is sobering enough to inspire GOP unity and firm resolve.
David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.