The Winners and Losers of the Government Shutdown

Barack Obama and John Boehner

The bell has sounded and the government is officially back up and running...for the time being. Wednesday night, after the GOP-led House approved a Senate constructed-bill, President Obama signed the bill raising the debt ceiling and ending the 16-day government shutdown. It was early October when Republicans decided to hold the country hostage as they sought to defund or completely destroy Obamacare. Their plan didn’t work. The House passed an agreement Wednesday night that increases the debt ceiling and funds the government until February 7 without any major changes to the Healthcare law. Now that the dust is starting to settle after two weeks of Democrats and Republicans battling it out, its important to identify the winners and losers--particularly with the ever-important 2014 elections just around the corner.

WINNER: President Obama

Contrary to what many Tea Party members and even some Democrats believed, President Obama stuck to his word this time and did not waver when it came to negotiating. The President has a very recent history of negotiating debt limit agreements. President Obama signed The Budget Control Act into law in 2011 after a similar debt-ceiling crisis threatened a possible default on the country’s loans. But this time, Obama was holding strong to his “presidential balls” (as Scandal's Fitz would say) and refused to renege on his promise.

“I said this yesterday; let me repeat it: That’s not going to happen. More than 100 million Americans currently, already have new benefits and protections under the law,” the President said to reporters on September 27th. “Those marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday no matter what – even if there’s a government shutdown. That’s a done deal.” 

LOSER: Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)

Ryan was one of the many GOP voices that sought to offer Obamacare up on the chopping block and change fiscal policies. Higher healthcare premiums for the elderly, tax-code revisions, approval of the $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline--all of his proposals were ignored in the final deal-making. He dug his own grave with this one though, especially considering he told the National Review that he expected Obama to flinch.

“Oh, nobody believes that [Obama won’t negotiate]. Nobody believes that. He himself negotiated Bowles Simpson on the debt limit with Democrats,” Ryan told reporters. “All of those major budget agreements were debt limit agreements. I see this time as no different and I believe he does too. I think most people believe he’s just posturing for now.” Ryan was clearly and embarrassingly wrong. This could really taint his chances of being a 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee.

STATUS UNCLEAR: American Citizens

It’s really a two-fold situation for us regular folks. The passing of the bill is great to get many of the government run programs and organizations up and running again. It also averts a possible debt ceiling collapse. But this is only a temporary bandage. The increase in the debt ceiling is just a cushion until February 7. There is still the the possibility that the country could see another similar political fight play out in just a few months.

LOSER: Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

It could pretty much be concluded that the losing party in this round is the Republicans. However, Cruz deserves his own loser’s circle. He vocally opposed any compromise that did not include major Democratic concessions on the Affordable Care Act. Wednesday night proved to be a kick to his Texas-sized ego. After the deal passed in the Senate, Cruz protested it as a horrible deal. “The outcome could have been different,” he said. “Imagine a world in which Senate Republicans united to support House Republicans.” Discrediting Cruz’s stance, Senator John McCain said that the GOP strategy was never going to work in the first place. “We’re in a hole. We have to dig out. We weren’t going to defund Obamacare, and we weren’t going to keep the government shut down.” It seems Ted may need to work on his place in the GOP party; things aren’t looking too well.

WINNER: House Democrats

Although House Republicans have the majority, House Democrats may have a chance to change that in the 2014 elections. The reopening of the government with no concessions from the Obama administration leaves the Republican party with a loss and a possible opening for many Democrats to unseat them come next election season. In a poll released by ABC News/the Washington Post, seventy-four percent of respondents said they disapprove of the way congressional Republicans were handling budget negotiations--thirteen percent more than democrats.