Well, as the smoke clears, it appears that for all the effort the Republicans put forth to win concessions on Obamacare, to repeal it, to defund it, to delay it, to amend it, then switch to tax reform as the issue, then switching to postponing the medical devices tax, then jumping to the fairness issue in insurance benefits between politicians and individuals, and then finally switching to budget cuts as the real issue -- they ended up with nothing. We have returned to the status quo. Nothing was accomplished. 

Yet Ted Cruz declared “Republicans won a major victory". Maybe Ted Cruz won a major victory, but not for the cause of freedom. His strategy may have lost us the House and the Senate in 2014. Don't get me wrong, I like and agree with his philosophy and moral courage, and his views on Obamacare. I might even vote for him if he runs for President, but this was a sacrificial strategy, not a strategy that could have ever won anything he sought. Most of those polled agreed with Republicans that Obamacare should be altered or reversed, and most agree that we need to balance the budget and would vote not to raise the debt ceiling until the fiscal situation was addressed.

Yet, the majority of polls blame Republicans for the government shutdown and disapproved of the tactics they used. And that's the problem. The strategy wasn't about ideology, it was about politics. The ideology went to the Republicans as far as the polls showed. But it was counterproductive and destructive and that's why over 70% of the American people ended up turning against the Republicans.

The only concession the Republicans won from the Democrats was a scheduled conference talk about long term entitlement and tax reform, with Republicans and Democrats sitting down to see if they can come up with a long-term strategy to balance the budget. To this, I say "why"? We already did that with Simpson/Bowles. They came up with a bi-partisan plan that was hailed as a reasonable and workable blueprint toward fiscal responsibility. Obama shelved the plan as soon as it was presented to him and we never heard about it again from the Administration. What makes anyone think Paul Ryan, Patty Murray, and a Conference Committee will have any more success?

In 2010, I wrote several articles advocating using the impending debt ceiling as a way of gaining leverage to win the House of Representatives. It worked. Republicans took the House because of that strategy. This time around, I fought against that very same strategy. I agree with almost everything being said today by Republicans. I agree with the philosophy and the morality of their stand. The difference is that the tactics that worked back then to restrain government spending could never work this time. It isn't the principles that have changed, it's the context.

Where protesting over the debt and deficits worked to focus the American people’s attention on the problem of future insolvency, today it wasn't the debt that was accentuated until the very last minute; it was Obamacare, a law that passed the Senate, the House, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. In this context, the  tactic was destined to be a losing one.

In the end, the Republicans were reduced to pathetically pleading that all they wanted was to sit down and have a conversation with the Democrats. Well, that's all they're going to get. Meanwhile, the debt continues to rise at about 200 billion dollars a quarter, and in January and February we will be going through this same debt fight again  as this agreement expires. We're back to "fiddling as Rome burns".

The President and Democrats continue to want to raise taxes and spend more money rather than pay down the debt. The President, one day after the debt ceiling was raised, went right back to his pitch of closing loopholes in order to raise revenues to grow the economy through investing in education, infrastructure, and other things like development of green energy. He's right back to pushing his tax-and-spend policies regardless of the growth of the debt. He acknowledges and pays lip service to addressing our long term debt problems, but not on his watch. What he wants to do is spend more money regardless of the increasing debt. He sincerely believes this will lead to growth, even though there is absolutely no evidence of it after billions in deficits and trillions in debt accumulated during the five years of his presidency.

We are taking in and spending more than this country has ever taken in and spent in history and we have nothing to show for it, except the greatest national debt mankind has ever known.

The job of the Republicans is to point out how fast we are headed toward insolvency and bankruptcy. They need to come up with a plan for both economic growth and fiscal balance, something the nation has not seen since Obama took office. A plan that is plain and simple.

As we burst through 17 trillion in the National Debt as I write these words, we need to take this opportunity to focus on and advertise that debt level, which only recently burst through 16 trillion.  Then we need to project when we will surpass 18 trillion and 19 trillion if nothing is done. We need to re-emphasis that we have over 60 trillion dollars of liabilities that we owe and have no money to pay for, then push the Democrats to explain what their plan is to prevent eventual bankruptcy. That sets up the fight for Congress in 2014. The strategy needs to be one of proposing growth policies, fiscal restraint, and fairness. Yes, fairness.

Obama will insist that any compromise consist of raising revenues obtained by reducing loopholes in the tax code. He wants the revenue raised to be used for "investments" in the economy. What the Republicans need to do is to propose across the board reductions in all subsidies and loopholes, and for the money raised to be used to pay off debts. And this in exchange for across the board tax rate reductions. What Obama wants is to just eliminate subsidies and loopholes on those he doesn't like while maintaining them for his friends, then use the money on new spending. What the Republicans have been afraid of is reducing the same goodies for their own friends. Both strategies are losers. 

The only workable strategy is to reduce subsidies and loopholes on everyone equally. That's fair. It's the fairness issue that should be snatched back from the Democrats in this battle. Only across the board reductions and eventual elimination of special treatment of all favored individuals will win votes; only fair treatment has a chance of passing Congress. In that "fairness bill" I'd even try attaching a clause that eliminates all special treatment, subsidies, and loopholes to politicians, which includes medical benefits.

See how that is greeted by the American people. 

And what of Obamacare? As Obamacare implodes while these talks and debates proceed, refer all concerns and complaints to the Democrats. After all, it's their baby. All complaints should be sent directly to the Senate and the White House. They're in control of Obamacare, not the Republicans. Maybe then, just maybe, if the Republicans don't screw this up, they can retain the House and pick up seats in the Senate. That's the best way of achieving the goal of changing Obamacare, promoting pro growth policies, and addressing the growing debt.

Paul Nathan