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Tilting at Windmills

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September 10, 2010

HOUSE REPUBLICAN READIES BASE FOR GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN.... I keep writing about the likelihood of Republicans shutting down the government -- if they win a congressional majority -- because they really are serious about this.

Consider this report from Dave Weigel, covering disgraced GOP lobbyist Ralph Reed's shindig in Washington today:

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) addressed the Faith & Freedom Conference with a hook you're hearing more and more often. He reminded the crowd that after Republicans won Congress in 1994, they forced a fight over the budget with President Clinton.

"The government shut down," said Westmoreland -- and the crowd started cheering. "That's what I wanted to hear! A good clap for that!"

According to Westmoreland, if they won a House majority Republicans were going to be "ready to hold the line and get those courageous men and woman" in the new class to stand fast and shut down the government.

The right-wing Georgia congressman said, after the shutdown the government, Americans will say things like, "Daddy can't go to the VA, the national parks are closed." But, Westmoreland added, just so long as far-right activists stand with Republicans during the shutdown, the GOP will "hold the line" and fare better than the last time the party pulled this stunt.

And today's extremist crowd signaled their intention to do just that.

I can only assume the public isn't quite prepared for what a Republican majority would actually mean for our system of government.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

When we republicans shut down the government, we will be heros throughout the land!

But, of course, shutting down the government does NOT mean that we will stop our investigations of the Obama administration nor will we stop our impeachment hearings!!!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

what will happen to the Tea Partiers when they can't get their Medicare and Social Security?

Posted by: andy on September 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The lame-stream media (ironic good call for once by right-wing critics) sure isn't trying very hard to inform the public of what would happen if GOP takes over.

Ironic, isn't is RPOV, how Obama isn't even investigating Bush etc. as much as he should have but they just consider it a sign of weakness. However the complaint that Obama won't let certain actions through doesn't mean he's doing nothing else about it, FWIW.

In any case, whatever misgivings you have I suggest that all readers vote for Democrats to avoid disaster. Here, the usual triangulating about being satisfied won't cut it. This is an emergency, it's like pulling a parking break at 80 mph even if you don't really want to.

Posted by: neil b on September 10, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Further proof that what we are seeing is NOT a "conservative" opposition, but a revolutionary right wing movement. These people really are out to overthrow the government. Forget "Godwin's Law" - these people are as dangerous a threat to our system of government now as the Nazis were to Germany in 1933. These people are NOT "conservatives." They are fascist revolutionaries.

Posted by: TCinLA on September 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Those who misunderstand the past are just doomed.

These people are nuts. Wouldn't shutting down the government show that it's actually useful?

Posted by: short fuse on September 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

@andy -

I think that's exactly what Westmorland is talking about. As long as the Tea-partiers are toeing the line and not screaming about their lack of Medicaid checks, the Republicans can hold out. Supposedly.

I think their friends in the Chamber of Commerce are going to be awfully pissed if the government shuts down in the middle of a recession though.

Posted by: NonyNony on September 10, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I keep writing about the likelihood of Republicans shutting down the government -- if they win a congressional majority -- because they really are serious about this.

A congressional majority or not is no matter. We're prepared for 2nd amendment remedies.

Posted by: TeaBaggerSmith on September 10, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe our trailer-park Randians will get to experience first hand the bracing tonic of anarcho-capitalism without those government checks diluting the purity of it.

Posted by: walt on September 10, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

yes, go ahead Repigs, shut down the big, mean, terrible, very bad government. And also live everyday with the possibility of some of our grandparents freezing to death, or starving, or dieing on the streets if they become homeless without their social security (old age) or disability checks, or their food stamps. THEN we will see who the REAL "Death Panels" are, and who in truth is "killing Grandma". (I'm talking to YOU Snake-in-the-GrASSly, and Sara shit-for-brains Phalin!) Do your stuff G.O.P. Maybe, just maybe, you will steal enough rope from the America people to hang yourselves.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on September 10, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think the whole Republicans drove the car into the ditch metaphor is way to soft for these crazies. Maybe they drove the train into the kindergarten and machine gunned any survivors, then took aim at grandma is closer to reality.

Posted by: martin on September 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

What did Paul Begala say? "Bring it on"? Be careful what you wish for Dems.

Posted by: square1 on September 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the looming Republican takeover will make more Democrats fight for traditional Democratic priorities, standing up for workers rather than being toadies for corporate sponsors. LOL! Naahh! But a voter can dream, can't he?

Posted by: Tom Allen on September 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The 1994 shutdown worked so well for Newt Gingrich, I recall. Clinton's approval ratings zoomed up, and that of the Republicans cratered.

Posted by: g on September 10, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Somewhat separately, after Republican policies have guided our car of state into a ditch, shouldn't we CHANGE our policies once we've pushed the car out? If my navigator had recommended exactly the route that steered us into the ditch, perhaps I wouldn't renominate him to steer us out of it. But then, I'm not a think tank strategist.

Posted by: Tom Allen on September 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The right-wing Georgia congressman said, after the shutdown the government, Americans will say things like, ‘Daddy can't go to the VA, the national parks are closed’.

So, where’s the ads from the DNC utilizing this video ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on September 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of hilarious when you think about what happened the LAST time they tried to shut down the government.

Morons.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 10, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The last time they shut down the goverment, Gingrich and crew were crushed by seniors fearful of missing their social security checks and by business leaders fearful of missing their government contractor checks and other business leaders (including farmers) fearful of missing their corporate welfare checks.

Those three constituencies haven't gone away. They populate the Republican base. Closing down the government, and then holding the line could be the single dumbest thing elected Republicans could do to themselves. Last time Newt Gingrich lost his job. If they hold the line and keep the government shut for any length of time, most of the Republicans in congress will lose their jobs in 2012 if the Republican base doesn't resort to second amendment remedies before hand.

if it wasn't for the fact that I don't want to see significant pain inflicted on the innocent and weak, I would say go for it boys, go for it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 10, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, I think things are different now. There are so many hard-staring, bitter cranks in the Repug base now and most of the rest of voters are so dumb and anesthetized by lame-stream mush, they could even get away with it. The answer instead of anything else is massive GOTV and convince indulgent cynics here they had better stop this shit roll.

Posted by: neil b on September 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

To almost quote Sam Harris, welcome to the 14th century.. World of idiots!

Posted by: Trollop on September 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

At some point, the majority of Americans are going to get fed up with this rightwing bullshit and take to the streets. That will happen when all the government services people take for granted are held hostage.

I'de buy stock in Depends when that threshold is reached. But the question remains: what will it take to motivate moderates, liberals and progressives to hold a massive demonstration? Do we have to wait until it gets that bad?

Posted by: bdop4 on September 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

One small problem: direct deposit is almost universal now -- back then they were cutting and mailing millions of dead-tree, physical checks. You may not need too many personnel to keep the money spigot flowing.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 10, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Begala said to Republicans "Bring it on". Begala knows that if the Republicans shut down the governement the country will turn AGAINST THEM.

Republicans are NOT loved right now and have a LOWER approval rating than Democrats. If they were to take power and shut down the government when we have high unemployment, Americans will be totally turned off. That is what helped Clinton get re-elected.

Posted by: Maritza on September 10, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

So, exactly what is the point of "shutting down the government", anyway? I really don't get it, what are they planning to hold it hostage FOR? Seems like this is just a giant trantrum, or am I missing something?

Posted by: shoeflyin on September 10, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Neil,

I am not sure loss of their social security checks won't take the fire out of the tea party crazies, but the chance that your right is too great. I am going to be contacting everybody I know to tell them to vote Democratic this fall. Even if you don't like the Blue Dog in your district, self preservation demands that we turn the tea party faithful away from the gates of power.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 10, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

As long as there are 34 Senators willing to back him, Obama could simply keep the government running despite the unconstitutionality of that measure, citing his status as commander in chief and all that preserve and protect jazz and just tell them to impeach him, as he'll be acquitted.
Not that he'd ever do that, but he could. Any President could. It's the lesson of Bush.

Posted by: JMG on September 10, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

The right-wing Georgia congressman said, after the shutdown the government, Americans will say things like, "Daddy can't go to the VA, the national parks are closed."

Well Rep. Westmoreland continue to collect his substantial federal paycheck?

Posted by: kc on September 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

People are rewriting history if they think that the 1995 shutdown was a clear winner for Clinton and the Dems.

By and large the public was simply sick with the bickering. Furthermore, it was Clinton who vetoed temporary spending bills that would have kept the government open. It was hardly obvious that the Republicans more more responsible than the Democrats.

Gingrich ended up losing the battle, largely because he got painted as a whiner by the media. It was a true but substantively irrelevant fact. It is far from obvious that this time around the media will take Obama's side against Boehner.

Posted by: square1 on September 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The government shutdown should extend to all public sector employees, be they Fed, State, City, or local.

The masses will realize that anyone feeding off the public monies should be shunned and ostracized.

Is that really what we want?

If you are an elected official, why in the hell stay in government if you don't have the maturity to represent those who elected you?

Economically, our government is, in a sense already shutting down with deficits beyond comprehension.

Tax cuts for the rich! How can they get tax cuts if there's no government to pay the taxes to?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 10, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

square1 I don't know where you were in 1995 but I was old enough to pay attention and I can tell you Newt and his crew were looked upon with universal derision for the stunt they pulled. Waaaaah we can't get our way so were gonna take our ball and go home. So what you think square we don't need no interfearing gubmint to tell us what to do. We'd rather let our corporate masters handle things because they obviously have all of our best interets at heart.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 10, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Social Security and other government checks are issued automatically through electronic funds transfer, but each day hundreds of thousands (if not more) people call and visit Social Security to file new retirement, survivor and disability claims, to report payment problems, to get checks re-started, to report changes of address, bank account, marriage status, or other factors affecting payment, to report changes to stop checks and avoid being overpaid, to obtain verification of payment to take to government and business providers demanding proof of payment. The list goes on. Government workers handle this flood of people while the govt techies keep the system working and correct problems. Each day the total of angry people can grow by the hundreds of thousands. Add the VA, the Medicare people at HCFA, and, well, you get the picture. The repugs will probably pass that bill and just shut down Labor, Education, anything they deem tyrannical.

Posted by: Paul on September 10, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf, I wasn't going to be that snarky, but I agree that square1 obviously wasn't paying attention when Newt shut down the government the last time. Newt gave in, not because he lost his nerve or because he didn't like being painted a whinner, but because he realized every day he continued made things worse for his side. Shutting down the government went a long way to securing Clinton's re-election.

Like I said, if I didn't worry about grandmothers going cold and hungry or hard pressed businesses going under by the thousands I would be all in favor letting the modern Republicans make the same mistake next January.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I only scanned the comments, but isn't the military part of the government? Does that mean the the military will be shut down, as well? That should be pretty interesting. And, who will pay the military and other government contractors (Haliburton, Xe Services, Boeing, etc.)if there is no government to pay them?

These people are insane and we are allowing them to commit our suicide with their insanity.

Posted by: st john on September 10, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

square1,

People are rewriting history if they think that the 1995 shutdown was a clear winner for Clinton and the Dems.

Were you hiding in a cave somewhere ?


Furthermore, it was Clinton who vetoed temporary spending bills that would have kept the government open.

Which were loaded with failed RightWing policy changes that President Clinton vowed not to sign into law. He went on to tell the American people that if they wanted to have that failed radical RightWing agenda enacted into law, they were going to have to get themselves another President.

Posted by: Joe Friday on September 10, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

You watch. They'll shut down the government and then say, "The American people suffered through a devastating recession and the Obama administration did nothing" conveniently leaving out the fact that because of their stupid temper tantrum, he couldn't do anything.

Make no mistake, their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Posted by: Layla on September 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Friday, et al.:

As both Obama and Clinton like to say, let me clear. I am far more liberal than either of those two. So there is no doubt that I would have preferred a more liberal budget than either Clinton or Gingrich wanted. I am not remotely sympathetic to Gingrich's actual agenda.

Having said that, before Gingrich made one of the biggest political gaffes of the past 20 years, the issue was generally viewed as an honest impasse between politicians with competing ideologies.

Gingrich backed a budget that would have slashed spending on health care, education, and the environment. While you and I might find such budgeting abhorrent, Republicans were simply following through on the campaign promises that had swept them into power.

It was only AFTER Gingrich stuck his foot in his mouth that Republicans were forced to yield.

The correct lesson that the Republicans learned was that Americans will tolerate principled opposition. They won't tolerate petty opposition.

I can absolutely promise you that if the GOP takes over the House next year, Republicans will be 24/7 repeating a message to the effect of "this is a principled effort to halt President Obama's radical agenda." They will bend over backwards to never suggest, as Gingrich did, that there is any motivation other than protecting America.

And guess what? If Americans accept that dynamic, they will accept the GOP forcing another shutdown, just like you accepted Clinton vetoing 2 bills to avoid stop a "failed radical RightWing agenda."

And if that happens -- if the GOP forces a shutdown and then Democrats are forced to yield -- you all will be scratching your heads trying to figure out how history didn't repeat itself.

Posted by: square1 on September 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The right-wing Georgia congressman said, after the shutdown the government, Americans will say things like, "Daddy can't go to the VA, the national parks are closed."

That's going to work out really well when "Daddy" has actually just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan suffering from massive PTSD or missing limbs requiring long-term care and therapy and finds out he can't get what he needs because ignorant Right wing assholes, all of whom loudly claimed that they "support the troops," have shut down the VA.

Posted by: electrolite on September 10, 2010 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

square1,

…before Gingrich made one of the biggest political gaffes of the past 20 years, the issue was generally viewed as an honest impasse between politicians with competing ideologies.

* By a 48 to 38 percent margin, voters said that protecting Medicare and the social safety net was more important than balancing the budget.

* By a 49 to 36 percent margin, voters said they trusted Democrats over Republicans to decide which programs to cut in order to balance the budget.

The American people regarded neither the Republicans fake concern over the budget or their radical agenda as “an honest impasse”.


Gingrich backed a budget that would have slashed spending on health care, education, and the environment. While you and I might find such budgeting abhorrent, Republicans were simply following through on the campaign promises that had swept them into power.

Nope.

The so-called “Contract For America” passed the House and died there. Not to mention the House Republicans garnered fewer votes in the 1994 election than they did in the 1992 election, which they lost.


It was only AFTER Gingrich stuck his foot in his mouth that Republicans were forced to yield.

* A Gallup poll released after the first day of the shutdown found that 49 percent of voters blamed Republicans, while only 26 percent faulted President Clinton.


Posted by: Joe Friday on September 10, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

st john, I was in the Navy when Newtie lost his show-down with Clinton. Failure to receive one's pay on time DOES NOT constitute an abrogation of the contract every member of the military signs on entering.
Nor was I the only one in my office that asked that question in 1994...

Posted by: Doug on September 10, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shutting down the government is a terrible thing to do; and, it truly does hurt innocent Americans. I was there. I was unable to pay my rent. I had no way of knowing how long it would last. I went hungry to make sure what money I had would last through this unknown amount of time. While I was off, I was unable to go visit my elderly mother on the other side of the country because it was a day-to-day thing and I might have to go to work the next day. After several weeks, Congress relented and told the government workers to go back to work the next Monday. However, we found out that God had more to say on when we went to work than Congress. The day before the return of all government workers in the Washington DC area, we had a blizzard. We were off for another week. And, then, Congress voted to pay all government workers for the time they were off because of the work stoppage by Congress. That's real fiscal responsibility. And, yes, the Republicans looked like a bunch of spoiled little brats who tried to take their ball and go home because they didn't get their own way. However, despite the fact that Congress is part of the Federal Government, they never suffered from the uncertainty of not being able to go to work or if they were going to be able to pay their rent, or if they were going to have money for groceries. Why was that? Shouldn't Congress have been shut down, too?

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