Beware the Pivot to a ‘Grand Bargain’

Obamacare by from National Review, October 9, 2013

It would appear that one of Washington’s tried-and-true political maneuvers—the “pivot”—is now actively underway in the unfolding budget drama. For those who may not be familiar with the pivot, it’s a sophisticated tactic employed by skilled political pros that might go by the name of “changing the subject” in the rest of America. The basic idea is to get everyone talking about something that they weren’t talking about just a few days ago so that they will stop talking about what they were talking about a few days ago.

In this case, the pivot is being orchestrated by House speaker John Boehner. He has everyone talking about the possibility of striking a “grand bargain,” or at least a “down payment on a grand bargain,” as the GOP’s condition for keeping the government open and for raising the debt limit. This “ask,” floated late last week in the press and then confirmed by Boehner himself over the weekend, comes after key Republicans, including the speaker, had spent weeks and months letting it be known that the No. 1 fight underway this fall would be over the future of Obamacare. Which is why “defunding” and then “delaying” the implementation of the health-care law were the critical provisions attached by the GOP to the first versions of the continuing resolution (CR) passed by the House in September. The GOP has been demanding a significant concession on Obamacare—not on the budget in general—as its key objective in the political struggle of recent weeks, and the Senate and the White House have been refusing to cede any ground. Hence the week-long—and counting—partial government shut down.

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