According to the so-called "conventional wisdom" in Washington, the current fiscal impasse should end any day now.
This is especially true as Thursday’s deadline fast approaches for dodging a disastrous debt default. Moreover, the American people’s anger continues to grow over the government shutdown.
But what is considered to be Washington wisdom these days may be anything but conventional. Thus it’s anyone’s guess, at this point, when and how the current crisis will end.
Some political commentators are predicting a mere 50-50 chance of a deal being struck this week. In fact, certain members of the House reportedly continue to question not only how soon government should reopen, but also the specific timing of when a debt default will actually occur.
Following are three widely discussed outcomes which may, or may not, take place:
1) Clean Compromise: This would entail both reopening the government and increasing the debt limit simultaneously, albeit temporarily, with no strings attached.
However, even if the Senate leadership and the President agree, will a recalcitrant House go along with it -- particularly without any concessions on the Affordable Care Act or otherwise?
Will the Speaker allow a simple up or down vote on a “clean” bill, or block it to appease extremist elements within his own party?
2) Mixed Measure: This would mean passing a debt limit increase without reopening the government.
Such an outcome would avoid a devastating debt default while maintaining negotiating leverage by Republicans for a larger deal down the road. A subsequent deal could address major entitlement reforms, further deficit/debt reduction and/or tweaks to the Affordable Care Act – such as delaying the tax on medical devices which helps fund the landmark health care law (even though the White House and Democrats insist that any change to "Obamacare" is non negotiable).
3) Nuclear Option: This outcome, the result of Congressional intransigence, would mean no deal is reached this week to either reopen the government or raise the debt ceiling.
Even if the President and Senate leaders agree to a short-term deal, the House might continue to hold out in the hope of extracting some face-saving concessions and/or funding government agencies piecemeal.
This all raises several questions on everyone’s mind:
- When and how will this crisis end?
- Which of the three possible outcomes outlined above do YOU think is the most or least likely to occur? Why, or why not?
- Is there another outcome you envision?
- Is there a date certain by which furloughed feds will return to work and get paid -- what's your prediction?
Please share your thoughts, insights and analysis in the comment section.
Also check out:
- Shutdown Showdown: 5 Priorities to Restore Fairness to Feds
- Is Shutting Down Government Ever Justified
- 3 Reasons to Cut Congressional Pay in Half
- Why Congress Should Be Furloughed Too
- Federal Salary: It's About Principles, Not Pay
* All views and opinions are those of the author only.