Tim Dale On Budget Showdown In Congress

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Tim Dale On Budget Showdown In Congress

Premiere Date: 
September 27, 2013

The UW-La Crosse political science professor discusses this week's budget proceedings.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

Finally tonight, as usual, job numbers get the political football treatment. For example, here in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker hails them as good and getting better while Democrats derived them as lackluster and stagnant. Even school curriculum swings with the political tide. And take a gander toward Washington where there's a drum beat in some quarters to defund so-called Obamacare even as it launches, perhaps with an eye toward upcoming elections. The politics of policy. We take a look at that tonight with UW La Crosse assistant professor of political science, Tim Dale. Thanks a lot for being here. 

Tim Dale:

Thanks for having me. 

Frederica Freyberg:

So this week, Republican senator Ted Cruz, as you know, staged an all-nighter faux filibuster over defunding Obamacare in return for not shutting down the government, and the in fighting kind of continues at week's end. What do expert observers like yourself make of what's been described as this political scrum between Cruz and a few of his allies and then establishment Republicans?  

Tim Dale:

Well, it's very interesting, and it's not unusual to see a party that doesn't have the presidency having debates amongst themselves for kind of who is going to lead the party going forward. I don't think it's a mystery that Cruz, Senator Cruz from Texas, and other Republicans are in a very early stage of running for president in 2016. And so I think what we saw over the week here in Washington was some of that, but there's also ideological disagreement about Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, and what it's going to mean for people. And I think there are a lot of different people, because they have questions about or because they have advocacy for it, want to keep fighting the battle over and over again. 

Frederica Freyberg:

Does this dilute or hurt in any way the Republican party going forward into the presidential elections?  

Tim Dale:

Well, I think that this is more evidence that the Republican party is in a certain condition as opposed to it being a cause for the Republican party to be in the condition. I think there is question among Republicans who's going to be leading the party. And it's not just individual personalities, it's also about the arguments that are going to lead the party. So for example, in the Republican party right now, there is real disagreement about whether the party should stay true to a fairly conservative platform offered by Tea Party Republicans, or whether they should move closer to the center and try to appeal to more – voters who may actually think Obama is doing a decent job, but may have some questions about some of his policies. And I think that what we see right now is a party that's trying to find an identity, and an identity that they would like to move forward with in the coming years. 

Frederica Freyberg:

Kind of back to the policy in Washington, we're kind of left with now the discussion of whether to pass this funding resolution or literally shut down government. How likely do you suspect that shutdown is?  

Tim Dale:

I think it's very unlikely. The last thing that anyone wants in congress right now is to be blamed for more dysfunction, and I think right now, people kind of see the dysfunction as theatrics. If government shutdown would have a real impact on people's lives, and I think they would be looking for someone to blame. It's a very risky move, and I really don't think it's likely. In fact, I think the unanimous vote by the senate, even when Cruz decides to vote against what he said he was going to vote, I think we see that kind of instinct that people really want to see government functional, at least in terms of passing a budget, even if not everyone agrees on what's in the budget. 

Frederica Freyberg:

Speaking of theatrics, is all of this that's going on in Washington by design, or is it, you know, real genuine ideological indignation?  

Tim Dale:

Well, I think it definitely depends on who you ask. So, for example, the Cruz speech that was delivered here a few days ago, that was clearly a designed speech to take a stance, and it was designed as theatrical. He clearly voted against even the argument that he was making in the unanimous vote in the senate. But it has its roots in ideology, and I think the debate is really about ideological differences between the two parties and even in some cases, ideological differences within the Republican party itself. But I think it also has to do with electoral politics, what wins elections in America. And there is disagreement about whether someone should stay true to some sort of core values or beliefs, or whether someone should be more moderate. What's interesting, I think, is that moderates also think that they're adhering to core values and beliefs, so there really is going to be a debate that we're going to see from today until the 2016 election, really, for president of about what the two parties stand for, because I think the Democrats will be going to something similar as they start to talk about who might be on the ticket to replace Barack Obama. 

Frederica Freyberg:

Tim Dale out of La Crosse. Thank you very much. 

Tim Dale:

Thank you.  


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