Without further ado here is my list if winners and losers from the latest budget debate in DC (not all are people). If you do not know what I am talking about you have been living under a rock for the last two weeks.
John Boehner: While it might appear John Boehner lost this debate because he could not control his Caucus in the end through defeat he humbled his Caucus ruckusmakers. Boehner’s strategy, allowing conservatives to fight and lose might have damaged his party but it also allowed him to gain the trust of conservatives at the same time. Now, as negotiations between the House and Senate are set to begin Boehner may be able to better rally his Caucus to a stronger and more politically sound position. It also ensures he is Speaker until at least the end of next year.
The Democratic Party: Democrats have to be happy with the results of the shutdown. The public blames Republicans, Obamacare is intact and the debt ceiling is extended for at least three months. Because the GOP took a deep hit Democrats believe that this hit allows them to hold several vulnerable seats in the Senate and House. The party is also optimistic it will lead to victories at the state level next year.
Obamacare: Obamacare is apparently here to stay. Tinkering at the edges might be possible in the future such as on the Medical Devices Tax. But the core of the law will be staunchly defended by Democrats. That said, the fact the law survives might not make Democrats happy in the long-run. The roll-out of the law has been a disaster and polls still show a majority of the public opposes and wants the law modified. If the budget debate fades and voters consider their 2014 choice on Obamacare the law could end up costing the party far more than it gains them.
GOP Governors: Republican Governors watching DC can only shake their heads in disgust and also quietly revel in glee that they will be the future of the party. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Susanna Martinez of NM and Brian Sandoval of NV, just to name a few, represent the future. For future 2016 Presidential contenders like Christie, they can appear to the electorate as pragmatic compromisers above the fray in DC.
Hilary Clinton: Just as GOP Governors benefit so does Clinton by not being part of DC. When she makes a decision on 2016 she will not be bogged down by votes there or the budget fiascos that more and more are defining Congress.
President Obama: Reasonable individuals can disagree with me and say Obama won this debate. But getting what one wants is not always winning in politics. Rather, since the government shut down polls have shown trust in the President’s leadership ability eroding and his disapproval numbers rising. While Democrats which had been softening in their support prior to the shutdown may come back to the President, Independents and Republicans sure won’t. The President wants to push other big ticket issues such as immigration but with a weakened hand and a majority of the public disapproving he may find he has little leverage to move an angry and defensive House GOP.
The Republican Party: Gallup recently recorded the GOP has the worst favorable ratings for any party in history. Moreso, generic ballot polls show the GOP has suffered at least short term damage due to the budget debate. But Republicans should keep in mind that the 1996 govt shutdown did not hurt them in elections that year and even in the wave year of 2010 the GOP had lower favorability ratings than the Democratic Party. Besides, how much lower can they get? Just do not let them get any lower.
2016 Senate Republican Presidential Contenders: Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and even Ted Cruz were considered bright stars in their party. Admittedly they still are. But with DC now being viewed with such disgust, especially from Republicans it is hard to see them being able to rehabilitate their images after being part of a chamber better know for wheeling and dealing than solving problems. Ironically the longer they stay their with the idea of rehabilitating their images the more they become viewed as the DC establishment. In GOP primary circles that is anything but an asset.
Joe Biden: Joe Biden was an asset in solving the nation’s fiscal cliff debate when he worked with McConnell to raise taxes on those making $400K or more and preserve a solid majority of the Bush tax cuts. But Biden was absent from this debate and instead let Reid take the spotlight. If Biden has ambitions for 2016 he needs to continue to show he is a strong asset for the party and can build and maintain bridges with Senate Republicans.