by Matthew Rusling
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (C) speaks during an event highlighting health care priorities and funding on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., Oct. 3, 2013. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Republicans aim to use the government shutdown in an effort to shore up their conservative base voters, but the tactic could backfire and cause long-term damage to the party's reputation, analysts say.
As the first government shutdown in 17 years dragged into a third day on Thursday, U.S. Congress showed no signs of compromise, with both sides digging in their heels after nonessential U.S. government employees were furloughed earlier in the week.
At issue is President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, as Republicans in the House of Representatives made passing a budget contingent on delaying the healthcare overhaul for a year.
Republicans are playing on their base voters' dislike of Obamacare, as many constituents believe the law is unaffordable, inefficient and smacks of government overreach, and the Republican Party (GOP) is betting that the move will pay dividends during the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections.
But if the shutdown drags on for too long, analysts said the risky strategy could not only hurt GOP lawmakers in the 2014 mid- term elections, but could also cause them to lose the 2016 presidential elections.
That could be disastrous for the party, as it would mean 12 years of Democratic control of the White House, the analysts said.
The Obama administration and Democrats keep blaming the Republicans in Congress for the government shutdown by insisting on binding the government funding bill with defunding or delaying Obama's signature Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
At the same time, the GOP is betting the healthcare law will flop, and that all the negative consequences the party had predicted could come true. That would allow Republicans, come election time, to represent themselves as the last line of defense against the legislation, analysts said.
But if the healthcare legislation turns out to be successful, Republicans will suffer a severe public relations loss that could result in a loss of control of the White House for years to come, analysts said.
"If Obamacare is a failure, then (Republicans) will do well in the 2014 ballot box," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua. "If Obamacare is a success, then we're going to usher in the third consecutive term of a liberal Democratic president in 2016."
Currently, polls find that a majority of Americans are against many parts of the law, and a Rasmussen survey released last week found that 50 percent of likely U.S. voters are against the " individual mandate," a key part of Obamacare, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a fine. Only 36 percent are in favor of the mandate.
The shutdown comes amid a GOP effort to re-vamp its image to one more inclusive of Hispanics, blacks and women, as minority births last year for the first time surpassed those of whites.
In order to survive and thrive, the GOP knows it must do more to reach out to groups not typically associated with it, as the party lost 71 percent of Hispanic voters in last November's presidential elections that reelected Obama for the second term.
Obama says economic shutdown could be "dramatically worse"
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said the U.S. economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse if Congress cannot raise the debt ceiling later this month.
Obama made the remarks at a construction company in Rockville, Maryland, ramping up pressure on Republicans to make compromise, as the fight over the government shutdown quickly moved to a showdown over lifting the debt ceiling. Full story
U.S. House GOP leader urges Obama to negotiate over budget, Obamacare
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's refusal to work in a bipartisan way has led to the first partial government shutdown in 17 years, said U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday, who insisted a key part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, should be delayed for one year.
"It's time for the president and Senate Democrats to put partisanship aside and sit down at a table so we can work out our differences," the No. 2-ranking House Republican said during a press conference Thursday. Full story
Obama pins gov't shutdown to GOP opposition to Obamacare
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua)-- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the government shutdown is not about spending, but solely due to the Republicans' obsession with dismantling his signature health care law.
In a speech at Maryland, Obama said the only thing preventing the federal government from reopening is that House Speaker John Boehner won't hold a yes-or-no vote on a Senate-passed bill because Boehner doesn't want to anger the "extremists" in his party. Full story