The agreement that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader
The measure includes none of the provisions demanded by House Republicans: no delay or defunding of the 2010
And what did we get? Another blow to the struggling economy. Economists say the shutdown cost billions of dollars in lost wages and consumer spending. Investors were rattled at the notion that
Congress could have averted the fiasco entirely if the House and Senate had negotiated a compromise budget for fiscal 2014 early in the year, as Democrats sought. But the House GOP leadership bet it could multiply its leverage by putting off the talks until it could threaten to shut down the government and stiff some creditors. Then Republicans frittered away whatever leverage they might have gained by following the tea party's lead and trying to roll back the healthcare law, which they simply did not have the votes to do.
Most Americans strongly opposed the shutdown, and according to one Democratic polling firm, they're taking their anger out on the GOP. Also, a new Pew Research survey found that nearly half the country views the tea party unfavorably now, up from a quarter in 2010. These numbers should motivate mainstream Republicans in Congress to try to accomplish something meaningful — maybe even the elusive "grand bargain" on spending, taxes and entitlements that would address Washington's long-term deficit and debt problems.
Such a deal won't be possible unless Democrats show more flexibility than they have in the past too. One encouraging sign Wednesday was the statement by a bipartisan group of 40 Democrats and Republicans supporting the Reid-McConnell compromise and pledging to keep working together on a long-term deficit reduction plan.
Yet tea party Republicans are getting a very different message. The Pew survey shows that the episode boosted the popularity of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the instigators of the "defund Obamacare" effort, among Republicans in general and tea party followers in particular — even as it hurt him with other groups. Several like-minded House Republicans blamed the "Surrender Caucus" within the GOP, suggesting they could have won the legislative tussle had they only kept fighting. Kind of like the Vietnam War.