The GOP’s efforts to eliminate or delay the health care law — known as Obamacare — led to a standoff over federal spending this fall. The impasse ultimately triggered the partial shutdown, which ended when Congress approved a bill to reopen the government on Oct. 16.
Cole said the recent drama holds several lessons for lawmakers, including the idea that shutting down the government is not a good strategy for achieving policy goals.
“Because you shift the debate from the thing you’re trying to achieve — repeal of Obamacare — to who shut down the government and why and what are the consequences,” he said. “Government shutdowns in America have not historically forced the other side to do something.”
Cole said the shutdown also lowered voters’ confidence in lawmakers and other branches of government.
“The cynicism and the frustration that you generate when you do something like that — it’s just not the right thing to do,” he said. “And I hope people finally learned that you never advance your political ends by making life worse for the American people. There’s no way a government shutdown makes life better.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this report.