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Rules of Disengagement

Rules of Disengagement

Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd

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Ear to the Ground
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Emboldened by Shutdown Polls, Democrats Push Spending

Posted on Oct 13, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Smelling blood in the water, Senate Democrats over the weekend rejected a Republican proposal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.

“It’s time for Democrat leaders to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday, after he endorsed for the first time a bipartisan proposal worked out by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and a group of Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

But the buckling Republicans, who began this shutdown battle demanding the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and now seem willing to settle for a few token cuts and a short-term deal, now have to contend with Democrats who feel like they’re winning.

“Look, I guess we can get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Sunday. The GOP has never polled worse, according to surveys by The Wall Street Journal and Gallup. This weekend, the Senate leadership decided to ask for more, pushing back on sequester budget cuts due to take effect in January.

According to The Washington Post, both sides are waiting to see how Wall Street responds to a prolonged budget struggle, with the potential for default looming around the corner.

The Democrats’ poll-driven negotiating advantage could decline if the public starts blaming them as much as the Republicans. It doesn’t help the GOP that some prominent members called for the shutdown and don’t appear to have an exit strategy. Still, if Republicans give in, the Democrats could find themselves owning this thing.

In all likelihood, Monday will be something of a bellwether.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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