Saturday, October 05, 2013

Game Theory and the Strategy of Conflict in Analyzing the Government Shutdown and Why President Obama Has No Choice But to Stand Firm Against an Extremist-Led GOP

In examining the current government shutdown issues, Russell Korobkin at the Los Angeles Times invokes the conflict theories of Nobel Prize-winning game theorist Thomas Schelling to make the situation more understandable, especially in terms of the options available to U.S. President Barack Obama, who can not afford to give in under current circumstances.

See Staring down the irrational wing of the GOP.

The Executive Bypass: President Obama Could Bypass Congress and End the Shutdown by Invoking Danger to National Security

A Reuters article at Obama, congressional leaders still deadlocked on shutdown contains the following significant paragraphs:

""Am I exasperated? Absolutely I'm exasperated. Because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama told CNBC television in an interview before meeting the congressional leaders. "I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say to 20 million people, 'You can't have health insurance,' these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible."

The U.S. Army's top general said the shutdown was significantly harming day-to-day operations, and intelligence leaders say it is undermining their ability to monitor threats. A Federal Reserve official said it could delay the central bank's ability to assess whether its monetary stimulus efforts are still needed."

As we noted in our previous posting on the Antideficiency Act -- -- the President could bypass Congressional failure to pass a budget and end the shutdown for ALL federal government services by invoking Presidential powers if the shutdown as a whole imminently endangered life, safety (e.g. national security) or property, which -- as we see from the above quoted material -- the shutdown clearly does endanger.

We say ALL services because the artificial division of federal government services into allegedly "essential" and " non-essential" categories is legally meaningless because there would be no consensus on any such an ill-advised and grotesque division. All federal services are needed, by definition, even if their essentiality is "politically" disputed. But politics is not law.

Hence, in our view President Obama could theoretically end the shutdown and restart the federal government -- thus essentially forcing actual passage of a budget by Congress, a budget which would then determine after the fact what is funded and what is not.

As far as recourse in such a case to the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court is concerned, that  presents no real danger since the Justices are not empowered to second-guess the President and shut down the federal government. At the worst, they could only wag their Constitutional finger at the President's decision and challenge the imminent danger to national security, which would be foolish. Obama's only political risk would be impeachment, which presents no actual risk in the current Democratic Party controlled Senate.

We are guessing the President is leaving this essentially simple if Constitutionally novel solution in his back pocket in case all else fails since it could be seen as an undesirable solution politically, putting the President on the Constitutional firing line. A President of strong character would have no problem with this solution.

Right now, the bulk of the political heat is increasingly and rightly on the obstructing Republicans, who are losing thousands of moderate voters -- those swing voters  who often decide elections -- for every day the shutdown continues and as long as the GOP remains under the thumb of right wing extremists and anarchists.

Indeed, we may be witnessing an irrevocable split of the GOP into two factions of pragmatists and fundamentalists, who in fact have little in common.

Even if the GOP survives this chaos, its chances for the future recede with every new demographic day as their aging Party base shrinks steadily.

Time is on the side of the Democratic Party.

We say that as non-partisan centrists.

If the GOP is to survive, they will have to abandon extremism and return to solid American values, and they will have to abandon obstructionism as their leading party platform.

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