Political Animal


January 22, 2013 4:35 PM Club For Growth: Debt Default, No; Government Shutdown, Yes

By Ed Kilgore

As House Republicans prepare to pass their rather convoluted temporary debt-limit increase legislation (requiring the Senate to pass a budget or face a constitutionally dubious pay cutoff), Dave Weigel notes a rather dramatic if muted shift of position by the Club for Growth:

The Club for Growth, the campaign group most feared by Republicans, is giving them a pass if they vote for the debt limit increase tomorrow. In a statement, Club President Chris Chocola absolves members if they support the compromise, hammered out among Republicans during their retreat, that cuts no spending and only threatens to withhold pay if senators don’t pass a budget.
“The Club for Growth will not oppose tomorrow’s vote on the debt ceiling. Club for Growth will, on the other hand, strongly oppose any efforts during the upcoming debate over the continuing resolution and sequester that fail to arrest out-of-control spending and put sensible limits on the growth of government.”
Is this a shift? Boy howdy, is it ever. In the summer of 2011, John Boehner asked Republicans to back a debt limit hike that included $1.2 trillion of cuts for a $1 trillion increase. The Club opposed it.

The other shoe dropping, however, is that the Club is drawing a line in the sand over appropriations (both measures to replace or reduce the scheduled sequester, and to deal with an expiring continuing resolution funding much of the federal government). Then they will presumably insist not only on dramatic domestic spending cuts but also the so-not-happening constitutional amendment permanently limited spending to a fixed percentage of GDP. So the Right’s hostage-taking threat has now shifted from a debt default to a government shutdown.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on January 22, 2013 4:54 PM:

    That's fine (relatively speaking). A gov't shutdown gives Republicans a chance to try to grind their approval rating to zero without totally wrecking the world economy in their petulance. It's certainly not good for us to have a shutdown but it's partially made up for by the GOP voluntarily making itself even more toxic.

    I guess then their position will be, "Nanny nanny boo boo, we have 5% approval but we gerrymander better than you."

  • c u n d gulag on January 22, 2013 4:58 PM:

    Yes, just what we need - another government shut-down!

    And why not?
    It worked out so well for Newt, and his proto-Nihilists, when they did this, back in the 90's.

    If I'm President Obama, even if there's some money that he can use, or find, the first things I don't pay, are the SS for seniors and military contractors.

    Hit the Republicans where it hurts - their ancient, mostly white constituency, and the people the politicians are beholden to, to get reelected.

    Governing, does NOT mean having to do battles to the death at the edge of every self-inflicted cliff.

  • Joe4more on January 22, 2013 5:45 PM:

    Any law which forces our Congress to balance a budget or set spending as a percent of GDP is dangerous. When push comes to shove we know who will bear the brunt of cutbacks. We should proceed to cut defense budget. The overkill response to 9/11 (Dept Homeland Sec), dissolve absorb into existing intel agency!

  • RaflW on January 23, 2013 12:28 AM:

    I would welcome a GOP-initiated, Club for Rich supported shut down.

    It'll be even more popular that Newt's 90s masterpiece!

  • Anonymous on January 23, 2013 7:48 AM:

    Is Chris Chocola related to Count Chocula which at first tastes good but leaves a terrible aftertaste?

  • Pete on January 23, 2013 10:09 AM:

    Not raising the debt limit would have wrecked the recovery. A government shutdown will be a minor inconvenience, and will probably backfire on the GOP. So this is progress, of a sort.

  • David Martin on January 23, 2013 12:21 PM:

    My congressman, Bill Posey, seems to think a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution is Congress's highest priority, so he'd enthusiastically support a default or government shutdown. The question is, how many Republicans think like him?