Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 30, 2011

THE CREATIVE-BUT-DUMB GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN PREVENTION ACT.... The Government Shutdown Prevention Act would be more amusing if it weren't quite so ridiculous.

House Republicans announced Wednesday that they would take up a largely symbolic bill this week that would make their long-term spending plan law if the Senate fails to act on a similar measure.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said at a press conference that Republicans would consider the Government Shutdown Prevention Act on Friday. The bill would make H.R. 1 law if the Senate fails to pass a measure "before April 6" to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. H.R. 1, which passed the House but has gone nowhere in the Senate, would fund the government through the end of September and seeks to cut $61 billion in spending.

"We're serious," the perpetually confused House Majority Leader told reporters today. He was soon followed by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said this little stunt "shows we are serious."

Um, no. If Republicans were "serious," they'd be working on a compromise, not a silly, symbolic stunt masquerading as real work. This isn't "serious," it's the opposite of "serious."

Consider the larger picture here. The House passed a radical spending bill, which the vast majority of Americans oppose. The Senate brought the measure to the floor, held up-or-down vote, and defeated it. Thus the need for a compromise.

Today, House GOP leaders unveiled this new gimmick, which qualifies as creative, in a painfully absurd sort of way. After voting for spending cuts that have already been defeated, the new measure would say the already-failed budget plan would automatically become "the law of the land" -- even without Senate approval or the president's signature -- just because House Republicans would say so.

Cantor, who apparently never saw "Schoolhouse Rock," thinks is a great, "serious" idea that could prevent a shutdown next week.

It's as if the country elected children -- slow, dimwitted, ill-behaved children -- to run the U.S. House of Representatives.

Keep in mind, GOP leaders could be spending time right now on finding a solution to the budget mess. Instead, they're spending time on a gimmick that makes it look like they're finding a solution to the budget mess.

They must seriously believe Americans are fools.

Steve Benen 12:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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"They must seriously believe Americans are fools."

Only 28% or so. That's their base!

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on March 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

The House GOP just saw what WI-GOP is doing and thought it was a great idea: it's a law if we say so!

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

They may think we're fools, but they obviously are as well.

I don't think there's a plan here, there's a bunch of PR and plots, but there's nothing HERE. I don't even think there's a plan to NOT do anything.

Posted by: Fang on March 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Even if the House Republicans had the intellect to govern in a responsible manner, they lack the courage to govern in a responsible manner.

Posted by: Bill on March 30, 2011 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

But, wouldn't the Senate have to pass the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act" ... and wouldn't the President have to sign it, before it becomes law and goes into effect? What makes them think this would actually become law?

Posted by: Jon on March 30, 2011 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"They must seriously believe Americans are fools."

Uhhh - yes, they do. How long did it take them to convince the typical American that Obama crashed the economy, ruined the banks and started TARP, ruined the mortgage industry, and caused the deficits to explode.

By my watch, that took just a few months, or, the realistic attention span of America.

Posted by: Mark-NC on March 30, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"They must seriously believe Americans are fools."

If that's a bet, I'll take it!
YOu cana't lose money on that one!!!

Whether it's the idiots who don't show up to vote, or the ones who DO!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 30, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Recognizing and respecting those pesky separation of power constitutional duties is so pre November election thinking.

Posted by: tsquared on March 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, I have just passed a bill making whatever I say the law. Bow before NTodd.

Posted by: Todd for VT House ccc on March 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wait what happened to making sure every bill they passed was in accordance to the US Constitution?

Was reading it out loud at the start of congress not good enough?

Posted by: Funonymous on March 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is the same bunch that made it mandatory to cite specific Constitutional language to justify any bill. I am curious to see what passage they find to support this move.

Posted by: KenS on March 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Did they forget to cite the line in the Constitution that gives them the authority to pass a bill, again?

Posted by: LaFollette Progressive on March 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

They know most Americans are fools.They are winning the propaganda war and the Democratic leadership are letting them. I am getting very depressed!

Posted by: edr on March 30, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Historically, judges have been zealous in maintaining their own importance, and that of their colleagues, even when they disagree with each other. I was already wondering (however the upcoming election goes) how the Wisconsin Supreme Court would respond if & when the Governor gets busted for contempt. Now I am beginning to wonder how the Roberts Court would react to a similar, but national and thus worse, constitutional crisis. Really, this has a potential to be much more important than impeachment or even Bush v. Gore. I wish I were more confident of the result.

Posted by: pete on March 30, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

I take it all these new Tea Party congressmen and women were home schooled. There is this little thing called the Constitution that gets in the way of one of the branchs of congress declaring a bill they pass a law.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 30, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

They must seriously believe Americans are fools.

Are they wrong? I mean, the very fact that they are were they are is strong evidence in favor of that supposition.

Posted by: Jon on March 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, guys! That Constitution thing is SO last week.

Posted by: DAY on March 30, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

"They must seriously believe Americans are fools."

Don't you get it? They are fools. About half the voters in the U.S. could not tell you whether the yokel they just voted for is running for the state legislature or the U.S. Senate. And these are the people who think they know enough to vote! A sitting governor once told me his pollster consistently reports 13-18% of the voters are certifiably insane; 33-40% cannot name the governor of their state; more than 90% could not name both U.S. senators.

The surest path to tyranny is a dumb electorate. That's why all the tea party governors want to slash public education funds.

Posted by: John B. on March 30, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with the commenters above who wanna hear just what clause in the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the option of making laws without the Senate and the President. It's Article Eleventy-Thhreeeee.

Posted by: MattF on March 30, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

They're fools. They're wasting their time. I already passed a law that funds the government without busting the budget. I did it, like, a week ago, man.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Rethugs are starting to realize they are going to loose the Shutdown.

Please, when it comes close not only the sane non-essential, shut down the essential services the Rethugs are slashing. Announce that the Retugs believe these are non essential services. Give the list to the press. Same time release a list of tax welfare for corporations and the rich and point out Rethugs believe these are essential.

Posted by: OKDem on March 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

My family has used home education for over 15 years. I get very very very tired of the broad brush for the use of "homeschooling." The vast majority of home education is NOT done by conservative Christians -- they are just the most visible and vocal.

The rest of us home educators just go about doing our thing in a more quiet manner. Also, did you know that most colleges actively seek home educated students because they do BETTER in college, are better educated, can think more independently and have a better base than traditionally educated students? Home educated does not mean stupid or partisan.

Posted by: moi on March 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Just aside from putting down the Repubs motives and assumptions, don't get too complacent about the "legal status" of this idea. As we know from WI, they don't care about such things anyway...

Posted by: neil b on March 30, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

No most Americans aren't fools, they're just ignorant. They don't spend hours on the internet educating themselves on the details of the budgetary process, foreign policy, or even local school board issues.

No, instead, while waiting at Jiffy-Lube or doctor's office or the airport, Americans hear a radio or TV blare that the Republican leadership has introduced the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act" and they think, "well at least they're trying to stop the shutdown."

It's, of course, a pretty cynical ploy on the GOP's part but that's what the messagers are telling them to do...which leads me to think that the fools are the GOP leaders.

Posted by: puravida on March 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The House Repubs are taking their cues from Wisconsin's governor. Apparently they're not paying attention to his disapproval ratings. Nor to national polls that say the majority of Americans don't like their spending cuts.

Posted by: Hmmmmm on March 30, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yes they do, and we are. Because they still have control of the MSM on this.

Posted by: moe99 on March 30, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hmn.. so, are the Republicans planning something like...

1) they pass this meaningless legislation
2) their base doesn't know it's absolutely meaningless and has no merit under the law
3) Republicans know that teabaggers and the GOP's other minions will rabidly believe them if they tell them that the bill is law
4) Fox News, Limbaugh, etc. put it out there 24/7 that this meaningless bill is law, and that the Democrats and the President are "breaking the law" by not adhering to the bill, which in reality is completely worthless and meaningless; mainstream media either ignores the reality that the bill is meaningless/gives another megaphone to this latest GOP big lie

5) Republicans exploit their latest coup d'willful ignorance for all it's worth

I wonder.

Posted by: June on March 30, 2011 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

June, I suspect that is the plan. It will work if we let them. This is time for a little truth to shine forth from those of us who comment. OK all you hidden MSM folks reading this, report this nonsense correctly. Please, just once.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 30, 2011 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Rand Paul's National Board of Ophthalmology helped write this bill? BTW, getting what you want by simply declaring possession... didn't W do that on his first election?

I don't know who's the bigger pussy: the people who pull this crap, or the people who allow it.

Posted by: Rochester on March 30, 2011 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

moi - *applause*

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the GOP has joined forces the Personal Sovereignty movement...

Posted by: Todd for VT House on March 30, 2011 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

What Democrats don't understand -- and never understand -- is the importance of narrative.

This debate isn't about numbers. Hell, not even relatively informed people can keep the numbers straight as people switch back and forth between measuring cuts from the 2010 numbers or Obama's proposed 2011 budget.

The story about this fight could have been about one group (Democrats) refusing to agree to job-killing spending cuts versus another group (Republicans) who is proposing a crazy and irresponsible plan that will destroy the economy. That should have been the Democratic narrative.

Instead, the narrative that will emerge will be thus: Democrats and Republicans are squabbling. Both groups agree that the deficit is too large. Both groups agree that the government needs to tighten its belt. Both groups agree that spending cuts need to be made. Both groups agree that tax cuts should not be on the table. They can't agree on the amount of the cuts but they appear to be apart by an amount that is roughly equal to 1% of the total budget.

Now, I would love to hear it if someone can explain to me why the GOP will get blamed for the shutdown if both sides agree that spending cuts are good and the GOP is proposing more of the "good".

Posted by: square1 on March 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

They must seriously believe Americans are fools.

Well. Of course. It's worth nothing that GOP has suffered *absolutely no consequences* for assuming American Voters are fools. They've assumed this, often with excellent electoral results, for over 40 years. Why should they stop now?

Posted by: LL on March 30, 2011 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Of course this will work, duh!

Posted by: Charlie Sheen on March 30, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly this stunt is an indication there will be a government shutdown shortly, and the Rethugs want to plant the idea that it's the Dumbocrat's fault. Which they will most likely do successfully.

Two points made above tell the story. All that's necessary to undermine democracy is to have an ignorant and lazy electorate, which we have. And, second, concede the ongoing propaganda war without a fight, which the Dumbocrats have been doing for years. The Rethugs control the playing field.

Now we have Scott Walker and his ilk elected as governors who decide to rule by decree, thereby nullifying the courts as a recourse, and Mirabile dictu, we have right-wing dictatorships in the states.

Is this a full-fledged constitutional crisis? Of course. How do we handle those? By simply crossing out the parts of the Constitution that apply. See separation of powers, habeous corpus, illegal search and seizure, freedom of speech, cruel and inhuman punishment. Need I go on?

2011 and 2012 are going to be far more entertaining that I ever imagined. Except I would prefer to be enjoying the entertainment from New Zealand rather than Massachusetts.

Posted by: rrk1 on March 30, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

So basically what the congressional republicans are saying is constitution fuck you,america fuck you. They think that this shows they're serious. What it shows is that they're serious about screwing the country up for their perceved gains at all costs.
I doubt that this little kabuki dance will succeed but if it does it'll be time for that second amendment solution that the teabaggers love to bandy about.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 30, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

PThey must seriously think Americans are fools"...OMG where would they ever get an idea like that? Of course again stating an absolute...they don't think ALL Americans are fools...just enough of them to benefit them...they're working on the rest by killing the public school system...and it's WORKING!!!

Posted by: Dancer on March 30, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, the totalitarian wolves in libertarian sheeps' clothing.

I have to say the Republicans are 100% on acting precisely in the OPPOSITE way from what they SAY they 'stand for':
--the Constitution (this move is ludicrous in the extreme and very unconstitutional);
--job-creation (then they move heavily and very programmatically [see Boehner's recent memo reported on here] to kill them, not just to harm Obama, but because they really, really want to drive wages down. They hate Obama because he did not let their planned depression happen);
--individual liberty and small government (and now they are mandating invasions of privacy in medical and personal matters, asking the IRS to investigate miscarriages to see if they weren't actually abortions, e.g.)

Whatever comes out of a Republican mouth read it in REVERSE.

Posted by: jjm on March 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

They must seriously believe Americans are fools.

To follow up on your Mos Eisley reference, a paraphrase of Obi Wan:

"Who's the more foolish: the fool or the ones who voted for the fool?"

Posted by: nerd on March 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: JTB on March 30, 2011 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is the GOP's pathetic attempt to put the blame for the shutdown on the Democratics.

The only thing more pathetic would be the Democrats' failure to effectively rebut this in the media.

I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 30, 2011 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Dimwitted politicans have been supported by the Oligarchs so that the ologarchs can control government. It has been successful in many ways. We The people will stop it.

Posted by: ML Johnston on March 30, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but what a bunch of fucking morons. They cannot declare that something is "the law of the land" just because they say so.

God but I hate my fellow americans for putting these clowns in a position of power.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on March 30, 2011 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

They must seriously believe Americans are fools.

Normally I wouldn't pile on (see almost half the comments above)

but on this auspicious occasion,,, blah blah
I must agree with the Rs and am happy to pile on.

Posted by: cwolf on March 30, 2011 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Instead, they're spending time on a gimmick that makes it look like they're finding a solution to the budget mess."

No, Steve. I agree that there are a lot of uninformed Americans who are easily fooled by stunts and clever sound bites. But at the risk of being proved foolish myself, I don't think this one is going to gull many people. It's too insiderish to catch people's attention unless the media play it up. And if they do, this time they have to call it out as cynical nonsense.

Expect my recantation shortly.

Posted by: tamiasmin on March 30, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"They must seriously believe Americans are fools."

They may not be wrong.

Posted by: Sasha on March 30, 2011 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK



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