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Tilting at Windmills

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October 28, 2010

GOP SENATE HOPEFUL: GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN 'MAY BE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY'.... About a week ago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared on Fox News and was asked about threats from his party about shutting down the government next year. Steele replied, "I have not heard any candidates say that."

Similarly, last month, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said talk of a possible shutdown is "absurd," and the very idea is little more than "the left" and "the media" attempting to "create an issue that doesn't exist."

These guys really aren't paying close enough attention. At this point, all kinds of Republican candidates have been talking up the shutdown idea. The latest is Senate hopeful Mike Lee (R), the overwhelming favorite to win in Utah on Tuesday, who intends to force a confrontation on the federal debt limit.

"Our current debt is a little shy of $14 trillion. And I don't want it to increase 1 cent above the current debt limit and I will vote against that," he says.

Even if it leads to government default and shutdown?

"It's an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it's not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it's not something that we can rule out," he says. "It may be absolutely necessary."

The likelihood of the GOP using the debt limit to force a shutdown is already pretty high, and the fight could come early next year.

It's also worth keeping in mind that a government shutdown isn't just "an inconvenience." As Alex Seitz-Wald noted this morning, "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's government shutdown in 1995 was disastrous; it ended up costing taxpayers over $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees, delayed access to Medicare and Social Security, and caused a '[m]ajor curtailment in services,' including health services, to veterans."

A few weeks ago, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was asked if we're likely to see a replay of the showdown that led Gingrich to shut down the government. Cantor replied, "No. I don't think the country needs or wants a shutdown." He added that when it comes to pursuing their agenda, Republicans "have to be careful" or they'll be "seen as a bunch of yahoos."

The number of Republicans who disagree with Cantor appears to be growing.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

I'm for it if there's a chance in Hell that the people who put the bozos in office finally realize that their representatives do _not_ have their constituents', or the country's best interest in mind. I look forward to the next 2-6 years with morbid curiosity.

Posted by: CDW on October 28, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Everything is Obama's fault! If he had followed my precise political wishes, the republicans would now be rational!

Posted by: ceenik on October 28, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

And the problem is - a shutdown right now would be a horrific assault on the economy. It would damage the recovery tremendously. And any default would spike interest rates, further damaging the economy and the government's financial position.

If they do this, expect a 12-15% unemployment rate by 2012.

Posted by: Chris on October 28, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"If they do this, expect a 12-15% unemployment rate by 2012"

Yes, and they'd love that in time for the Presidential election.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

A shutdown by refusing to pass appropriations would have the effects you cited, Steve. A shutdown by failure to pass an increase in the debt limit would be a default on U.S. securities (as we borrow money to roll them over). This would, among other things, bankrupt the Social Security Trust Fund overnight, as well as most U.S. banks. I trust the big money boys will explain this little fact of life to Lee very soon.

Posted by: JMG on October 28, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

ceenik wrote: "Everything is Obama's fault! If he had followed my precise political wishes, the republicans would now be rational!"

Here it is, less than a week before the election, and Obama supporters are overwhelmingly preoccupied with bashing progressive Democrats.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 28, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

SaintZak hit the nail on the head. In these sociopaths' calculations there simply isn't a downside to doing this. What do they care who suffers as a result?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 28, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"a 12-15% unemployment rate by 2012"

I wish! By some accounting, it is presently around 22%.

I urge all to visit today's

www.counterpunch.org/

and read "America's Jobs Loses are Permanent"
By Paul Craig Roberts, (Ronald Reagan's SecTreas)

Posted by: DAY on October 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I look forward to the next 2-6 years with morbid curiosity.
Posted by: CDW

The last time I felt a morbid spectacle unfolding before my eyes was the drum, drum, drum, of the GOP political/media machinery before March 20, 2003.

Of course back then I was naive enough to think that if the pretext for war (WMDs, ties to Al Qaeda, etc) were found to be lies, the Bush administration would have hell to pay. They were lies. How did America respond.....November 2, 2004 Bush was rewarded with 4 more years.

Posted by: Oh my on October 28, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich's government shutdown in 1995 was disastrous; it ended up costing taxpayers over $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees

The shutdown was a little over 20 days.
Shutting down the whole year at that rate would cost less than 16 Billion.

Chump change.

Just as Mr. Benen says the length of a bill is a prety crummy way to judge if it's good or not, expense is not a good measure of how bad a shutdown would be.

If there were no other drawbacks, it'd be a tremendous money saver. Of course, the savings wouldn't be linear, but oversimplification is a Republican specialty. We can't hope to beat them at their own game. Let's not try.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

No gain without pain

What do they care who suffers as a result?

Yes. What is Krugman's phrase for these types?
Oh yeah: The rise of the pain caucus.
A little fiscal austerity never hurts...
Especially if you got a billion, or a billionaire's support.

This should be fun.
Keep this in mind: A whole lot of teabaggers will not see their social security checks mailed on time.
It will be hard not to laugh...

Posted by: koreyel on October 28, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Remember that Mike Lee is the candidates / presumptive senator because he mustered about 2000 votes at a state caucus. Not a primary. I posted on this earlier. About 2000 very activist right wing Republicans dictated the outcome of a US senate race. What a democracy.

Mike Lee is running as "an across the board conservative" and touts his leagal acumen and clerking on the SCOTUS for Alito. Like many other candidates in the R party this year, he has a tragically stupid sense of how government works, how our bond markets work, what the impacts of such a shutdown would be on global markets; what impacts they have on US economic system, etc... ie, he is a fucking moron. And he will be a US senator -elect next Wed morning.

Ok team. What are my options? Canada ? New Zealand ? help ...

Posted by: bigutah on October 28, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

So shutting down over a debt cap, which will create about a trillion in additional costs, is fiscal conservatism. Brilliant!

Posted by: johnnymags on October 28, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Our current debt is a little shy of $14 trillion. And I don't want it to increase 1 cent above the current debt limit and I will vote against that," he says.

And who can we thank for this debt? That's right: Republicans.
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© on October 28, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Again, let the record show that the primary question addressed by voters in the 2010 Election was whether or not to shut the country down completely. Truly this is precisely what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

[...sigh...]

Posted by: chrenson on October 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

And where were these insurgents against the deficit when Bush was adding his trillions to it?

Remember, Obama's first full budget SHRANK the deficit by something like 9%

Posted by: jjm on October 28, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think JMG's point needs to be restated over and over and over again.

A government shut-down is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Dicking around withe debt limit is like self-immolation.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on October 28, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the unemployment checks. We didn't get those either during the last govt. shutdown

Posted by: jugheadja on October 28, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

IF the GOP does this - stops the govt- they will loudly blame Obama and the Democrats, and the Media (being fair and balanced) will go along with it because the Dems will have a majority in the Senate and the sitting President. Then in 2012, "Obama Shut the Government" will be the GOP campaign slogan. Anyone wanna bet?

Posted by: T2 on October 28, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This would, among other things, bankrupt the Social Security Trust Fund overnight, as well as most U.S. banks. I trust the big money boys will explain this little fact of life to Lee very soon.

I worry he and his compatriots will refuse to listen. One of the defining characteristics of the new crazy breed of Republicans seems to be a complete imperviousness to facts and logic. I fear not even a good explaining by their financiers will stop them.

Posted by: Nied on October 28, 2010 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK
"He added that when it comes to pursuing their agenda, Republicans "have to be careful" or they'll be "seen as a bunch of yahoos."

Too late...........

Posted by: wbn on October 28, 2010 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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