Before conservatives became unhinged over Planned Parenthood, the odds on another government shutdown by the end of September were decent. In February, President Obama proposed a budget that increased military and non-military domestic spending. In the spring, Congress passed a budget resolution, without any Democratic votes, that increased military spending while cutting social spending. No substantive negotiations have occurred to bridge the gap as the September 30th deadline looms.
Now conservatives are accelerating a shutdown showdown, and are weakening their own hand in the process.
As I explained at Real Clear Politics, Sen. Ted Cruz is urging Republicans to refuse to back any bill funding the government that leaves in place funding for Planned Parenthood, and at least 18 House Republicans so far have agreed. But since Sen. Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said that is impossible to achieve and he won’t allow for any more shutdowns. So if enough ant-abortion conservatives refuse to vote for the eventual government operations bill, McConnell and Speaker Boehner will have no choice but to rely Democratic votes to avoid a shutdown.
The only question then is what price will Democrats demand.
Democrats can’t ask for the moon; making unreasonable demands runs the risk of sharing blame for the shutdown.
But Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain have already signaled that they are willing to make concessions to Democrats on taxes or spending in order to secure a bigger Pentagon budget. There will certainly be an opportunity to move farther away from sequestration and increase public investments again.
In other words, the more the Left agitates the Right over Planned Parenthood, the greater the likelihood that next year’s budget will include more government spending and more stimulus for the economy.