Don't buy into the latest round of brinksmanship. If lawmakers follow their own political interests, they'll fund the government.
The Congress that cried wolf is at it again.
This week, Republicans and Democrats are haggling over a bill to keep the government funded until Nov. 18, after three epic partisan stalemates within the last nine months -- over the Bush tax cuts in December, keeping the government funded in April, and raising the national debt limit in early August.
Should we worry about this latest partisan showdown?
A few things have changed since those fights. Both Republicans and Democrats are beginning to demonstrate some behavioral plasticity, to borrow a term from evolutionary biologists, adapting to the new environment of constant crisis. Washington's political ecology is beginning to shift.
In previous stalemates, Republicans have seemed to enjoy a bargaining advantage, exploiting Democrats' relative unease with halting government services. While House Speaker John Boehner warned in April that a shutdown would be irresponsible. In August, it was Obama who harped on the specific consequences, like Social Security checks not getting mailed out, if a debt-limit deal was not struck. Now, Ezra Klein writes, some Democrats are warming to the idea of a shutdown:
... Democrats ... worry that Republicans have become too accustomed to legislating through fiscal brinksmanship, and the only way to reset the budget process and end these constant threats of shutdowns and defaults is to let a shutdown actually happen and show Republicans what that means for them, both economically and politically.
Republicans, meanwhile, have calculated that a stubborn image isn't helping them. They've decided to play nice, Dana Milbank points out. After giving a warm and conciliatory initial response to Obama's latest jobs plan, the typically unyielding House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has poured mostly bipartisan sugar from his Twitter account of late, Milbank notes.