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Tilting at Windmills

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August 31, 2010

PLANNING AHEAD FOR A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN.... The last time Republicans had a great midterm cycle under a Democratic president, they proceeded to shutdown the federal government -- twice. The public, with good reason, blamed the GOP, and party leaders took a major hit in the polls.

In his 1996 State of the Union address, then-President Clinton told lawmakers, "Never, ever shut the federal government down again."

Today's Republican Party seems inclined to ignore the suggestion.

Likely Senate candidate Joe Miller (R) in Alaska told Fox News last week that GOP lawmakers must have the "courage to shut down the government" in order to eliminate government programs he doesn't like. Right-wing CNN personality Erick Erickson said with child-like excitement yesterday, "I'm almost giddy thinking about a government shutdown next year. I cannot wait!"

And sleazy GOP consultant Dick Morris told activists late last week that Republicans should do exactly as Gingrich/Dole did 15 years ago, but this time it'll work out better.

"There's going to be a government shutdown, just like in '95 and '96 but we're going to win it this time and I'll be fightin' on your side," Morris said at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation Conference on Friday in Washington. [...]

Morris sounded a similar note in April, suggesting in a speech the Republicans should force a shutdown over health care funding.

Josh Marshall added yesterday, "Obama's veto pen can do a lot of stuff. He can veto a defunding bill too. The key though is that he's got a government to run and he needs a budget. All of which suggests that this ends up pointing in the direction of a government shutdown type standoff."

Last month, I put the odds of a government shutdown, in the event of a GOP majority, at over 50%. I continue to think that's a reasonable assessment. Indeed, it almost seems likely -- Republicans have decided that President Obama is not to be negotiated with, and there is no acceptable compromise between the White House's position and the GOP's.

Besides, if Republicans are rewarded in the midterms after moving sharply to the right-wing, they'll consider it a mandate for unflinching radicalism. I'd be surprised if they didn't shut down the government.

Steve Benen 10:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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At least a shutdown will allow the tax cuts to expire on schedule.

Posted by: Todd on August 31, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Except this time, instead of being in an economy that is expanding, we are in an economy that is floundering, contracting even. A shut down of the government at this time, especially when what is needed is more fiscal stimulus, will be an out and out disaster.
Imagine the government shut down for a week, or two, or a month. No budget, no payments. Watch what the unemployed and those on social security will do to those that cut off their only means. If you want to spark a revolution, I can think of no better way.

Posted by: Gridlock on August 31, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, there'll definitely be a shutdown. There will also be impeachment hearings, and a whole slew of frivolous investigations. *sigh*

Posted by: EdTheRed on August 31, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Sir! Sir!

If you shut down the gummint, will they still print my Social Security check?

And, will the Post Office deliver it?

Posted by: DAY on August 31, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Gleefully planning a shutdown? And being quite public about it as well?

Jesus, the teabaggers who support the far right agenda AND are receiving social security and medicare benefits are some of the dumbest people on the planet.

The candidates and lawmakers who want to destroy the economy by cutting down the last constant support beam are beyond stupid. Oh, but since most of them belong in the high earner 2%, they are not personally at risk when the collapse comes.

They'll hold the economy hostage until they get their tax cut, but even if they get what they want, it'll be too late for the rest of us.

And China will be the biggest and healthiest economy on the planet.

Way to go, Repubs!

Posted by: jcricket on August 31, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

As awful as all this sounds, I can't imagine the scenario in which Republicans benefit from outright civic vandalism. Rather, the opposite would seem the likelier outcome. Which might finally wake up some people.

At some point, however, Republicans will be pissing off the people who vote for them because they love fetuses or hate hippies. Not every conservative is a Randian superhero.

Posted by: walt on August 31, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I repeat: Republicans insist that government is the problem. And they prove it every time they get elected.

Posted by: chrenson on August 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

This is terrible news for the economy, but great news for Democrats. Finally it will become clear to the public who the obstructionists are, even if the media continues to strive for fake "opinions-on-shape-of-the-earth-differ" evenhandedness.

That, combined with the likely ultra-looneyness of the Republican class of 2010, combined with greater turnout among young people, should make 2012 a banner year for the Dems. So that's something to look forward to at least.

Posted by: Basilisc on August 31, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Not only will they shut down the government, they will blame it on Obama. Aided by the media they will shout at the top of their voices that Obama did not "compromise" and agree with everything they want.

If this does not get the democratic base fired up, we deserve the shutdown. Voters of this country constantly vote against their interests. They swayed by simplistic arguments and fear.

The average household income in the US is $50,000. If these average earners think Republicans are going to look after their interests, then they deserve every hardship coming their way.

There are just 120,000 folks who make over $2 million a year. The whole fight over the Bush tax cuts is for these 120,000 people. 120,000 vs. 309 million.

We will get the government we deserve.

Posted by: TT on August 31, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Seriously, when candidates can run for public office on a promise to do absolutely fuckin' nothing during one of the deepest economic crises in our history, the democracy experiment is completely over.

Pack it up, folks. We've done all we can for these people.

Posted by: chrenson on August 31, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

They'll hold the economy hostage until they get their tax cut, but even if they get what they want, it'll be too late for the rest of us.
And China will be the biggest and healthiest economy on the planet.

too late already . No turnin' back now. The Walmartification of America has succeeded. Dumbed down masses lining up to by cheap stuff from China. All those exported jobs have come home to roost, but who cares when you can get a 42" LCD TEEVEE for under $500...cheap socks too!

Posted by: john R on August 31, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

The shutdown is a gimmee, and they'd finish with another impeachment. They just can't help themselves.

I'm not all that sure Boehner is headed for the speakership, though. Gallup's generic polling tends to be all over the map, and August is the time when Republican memes spread like the weeds that take over my yard during the dog days. Come September the GOP's evident craziness will start gaining some attention. If they expect another 1994 they could be in for a shock.

Posted by: jimBOB on August 31, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

I'm inclined to let them shut down the government. Let the GOP take the house. Punish those people who continuously vote for conservatives against their own interests, because that is what will happen. All the working class heroes and middle class wannabe rich folks who keep getting fooled by the ultra rich will join the ranks of the rest of the permanent underclass which is being formed in our country, by design.

I'm beginning to think this country HAS to hit rock bottom, depression style, to wake Americans up. This country is being surpassed AS WE SPEAK by China and India in almost every category, economically and socially.

The painfully ironic thing is that most of this xenophobia will result in the conservative tea baggers biggest fears, which is the empowerment of the brown races and foreign countries and their guaranteed competitive edge over the shell of what this country used to be.

Posted by: citizen_pain on August 31, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine you're in a job interview and you're asked "Where do you see yourself in two years?"

Then imagine answering: "Oh that's easy! I'll be sitting at my desk playing Minesweeper while the company folds. Also, I'll be drinking beer and watching television. And I'll encourage everyone else here to do the same. In fact, I'll pay for everyone's beer. If anyone tries to do anything productive to help the company, I'll deride them endlessly. I'll mock them. Call them a Nazi/Communist. I'll draw pictures of them with Hitler mustaches. I'll question their religion and citizenship. I'll call them queers and welfare queens and Liberals and Muslims and niggers. I'll set fire to their cubicles. I'll vaguely suggest that they should be beaten up. I'll convince everyone to bring a loaded gun to work every day. I'll make everyone pray with me. I'll force you to fire everyone here who doesn't speak English as a first language. I'll make everyone including you sign a statement saying they agree with everything I say. I'll get my rich friends to give me money just to bring this company to a screeching halt. I'll take whatever is in the company bank account and give it to my rich friends. I'll make you take hard-earned benefits away from every employee who doesn't look like me. And in two years I'll pick the stupidest, hottest, loudest, most unbelievably vapid one of us and put her in charge."

Then, imagine getting hired.

Posted by: chrenson on August 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

What Democrats don't understand is that voters don't care WHAT Republicans do. They only care WHY they do it.

Gingrich's shut down was not a political loser until it was reported that he did it out of piqué for being made to eat the stale M&Ms in the back of AF 1. Had people believed that Gingrich was acting out of principle, he might have been successful.

The only question in my mind is whether the GOP can successfully bamboozle a majority into believing that Obama's agenda is truly radical. I doubt it. But if they can, shutting down the government would be a political winner. If Dems expect that the GOP is committing political suicide and fail to take sufficient measures to spin the action as cynical, opportunistic, and unprincipled, the Dems will lose again.

Posted by: sqr1 on August 31, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

"that President Obama is not to be negotiated with"

That's a polite way of putting it. Of course, it HAS to be because he is an African American or a liberal.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on August 31, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

chrenson - very great allegory!

Posted by: winddancer on August 31, 2010 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

They will shut it down, and they will not pay a price like they did in 1994. Something I suspected but still can't fully appreciate, is how much the first decade of this Century simply destroyed the ramaining fabric of this Country. The election of 2000, the fucking wars, the economy, not since the 60s has there been so much social stress. My beloved Party with so much of its heart in the right place, so completely ineffectual. The entire Country is going Galt. People who ordinarily should and do care, don't anymore. It is painful to watch, but neither history nor policy are going to save us from this, and far from being a saviour, I am beginning to think that the President was one last act of desperation of a Country circling the bowl. Maybe its my age, but this just doesn't look good from any angle, and maybe we deserve it.

Posted by: Scott F. on August 31, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see why it would come to this unless Democrats in the non-majoritarian Senate completely cave. I suppose enough might on funding bills, but even there why would they agree to de-fund health reform?

Posted by: Theda Skocpol on August 31, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: chrenson on August 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM


Posted by: Otolaryx on August 31, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Theda -

If they hold the House, they can simply refuse to pass (or maybe even refuse to bring to a vote) an appropriations bill that has funding for HCR, and refuse to pass (or bring to a vote) a continuing resolution. Doesn't matter what the Senate does. Result: govt shutdown.

The problem is that our system assumes a basic level of responsibility on the part of Congress. Alas, our founding fathers had too much faith in us.

Posted by: Basilisc on August 31, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not call it a Republican shutdown of government. It's more like a strike. GOP solons are rising up in solidarity. That is, 19 months into Obama's presidency, they are following a pattern familiar in America's history of adversarial relations. The planned walkout is not over working conditions (cushy), salary ($174,000 base) or workload (Tuesdays through Thursdays is hardly onerous). It comes instead because of an uncooperative executive's insistence on legislation that can make him look good without regard to the GOP collective. No wonder they stand shoulder to shoulder, refusing to negotiate. Such strategy is time-honored.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on August 31, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I think Republicans believe their shutdown will succeed because they believe Obama will not have the backbone to confront them and beat them as Clinton did. Considering Obama's actions since he came into office, they have plenty of evidence to back them up.

Posted by: Bat of Moon on August 31, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

This is ridiculous. The GOP openly admits they will refuse to do a goddamn thing and then they dare accuse Obama of being too "partisan" and not listening to them, even after he tried to in the health care summit and all they did was whine. I'm sick of this "you're alienating moderates" bullshit. Every time Obama has tried to extend shit beyond party lines they've all acted like a bunch of 13 year olds. The bi-partisan meme is a dirty trick played by the GOP. "You're too partisan" translates roughly to "you've tried to give me a chance to speak but I made an idiot of myself when I did and now no-one will listen to me so I'm going to take my revenge by stubbornly shouting down anything you say."

Nice leaders we have.

Posted by: Layla on August 31, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

If the GOP shuts down the government, would they mind if I used my 2nd Amendment rights on them?

Posted by: Tigershark on August 31, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Where are the commercials from the DNC on this?

"Remember the last government shutdown? When you didn't get mail, and no VA benefit checks, Social Security checks, or Medicare payments were processed? Well, the GOP is gleefully planning another one if they get control of Congress.

"When the government is shutdown, there will be no FDA or USDA inspectors on the job to protect your health. No federal mine inspectors working to prevent another disaster."


Posted by: Laura on August 31, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

What Tigershark said.

Posted by: Jaguarshark, or whatever it is, if it really exists. on August 31, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

... of a Country circling the bowl. Maybe its my age, but this just doesn't look good from any angle, and maybe we deserve it.

I'm with Scott. We do deserve it. Things have to become a lot worse before the voting public in the middle of the road wake up and realize that they have been taken for about a 30 year long ride starting with Reagan. The dismantling of the middle class was a purposeful decision abetted by the last 4 administrations. Yes, that includes Clinton, the best Dem President the GOP has ever had.

Posted by: bradgalt on August 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos, chrenson !

-the only problem with your cautionary tale, is that it takes place in the Real World. Which, we have come to believe, does not include Washington. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 31, 2010 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly I have zero hope for the future of this country. Some of you seem to think that if the Repugs shut down the government the American people will wake up to their BS.

You have WAY more faith that I do. After all the Demos have not been able to do anything against the Repug spin machine. All too often Demos shoot their own agenda in the foot, and we certainly cannot pull together or even state the freaking facts when needed.

The Repugs WANT to destory the economy. Doesn't everyone understand that? They do not care at all about the well-being of the nation (well, some of them might, but I can't name any) all they care about is being elected. All they care about is destroying the Dems. Nothing that they do -no matter how bad- will change the public perception.

What happened after they froze the government and wasted years hounding the Big Dog in the '90's??? They won the White House in 2000, that's what happened. The only reason they lost congress in '06 is because of the wholesale damage they caused to the country under Bush. They ALREADY blame the economic troubles of our nation on Obama and many, many Americans believe them. Do you think Joe Q. Republican is going to switch sides after the righties freeze the governement?? Hell no. They will hate Obama and the Demo's even more.

The Demo's cannot unite enough to fight back. This is why "bipartisan" means "Do what the Right says" these days. I have no faith at all in the Demos ability to talk to the public or change the public's minds. If the Rebugs win control of Congress we are doomed. I don;t think this country can withstand another '96-'06.


Posted by: Mitch on August 31, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, Dem bastards are up to no good yet agin! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 31, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mitch - I feel your pain. How I bristle at Fox News calling this a center right country, but take out the word center and I think they are correct. I loved Clinton, but he was only effective when he shifted right and he wouldn't have won but for Perot. That leaves only Obama in the last 30 years, and look what they've done to him. Tied him in knots. I thought I would feel more like this was my Country again after Obama's election, but I don't. There are good people all over the globe but what this Country has come to represent is a parody of its own rhetoric and I don't think we've done much good for the planet or that the Union is particularly worth preserving. (Of course, this is the kind of post that kills political careers, but since I have never aspired to such a path, I guess I am safe.)

Posted by: Scott F. on August 31, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Gee...authoritarian governments like Russia's are starting to look pretty good, aren't they?

Posted by: Mark on August 31, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

chrenson on August 31, 2010 at 11:14 AM
wins the internets.

Nothing else to be said.

Posted by: smartalek on September 1, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Just to let you know... your website looks extremely strange in Mozilla on a Mac

Posted by: erotik filmler on November 24, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK



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