GOP insists they’ll shoot the hostage

  • Published on September 30th, 2013

With five hours to go before a midnight deadline for government shutdown, it sure looks like the GOP will make good on its threat to shoot the hostage, shut down the Federal Government, and hold their breath until they turn blue.

There are still a few hours left, so they may yet back down and NOT pull the trigger. But I wouldn’t count on it.

The Issue

This time around, there isn’t an issue. The last few rounds of this particular confrontation have centered on The Evil Deficit Monster. Specifically, the GOP claim was that spending was OMG OUT OF CONTROL and the deficit was OMG OUT OF CONTROL and that meant that at some point in the distant future that meant the US would be in trouble.

So in the middle of the worst economic collapse since the great depression, they insisted on cutting spending NOW to avert that someday maybe disaster. The results:

  • The weakest economic growth of any recovery on record.
  • The weakest job growth of any recovery on record
  • But… spending is down over all (yes, despiste current GOP rhetoric, total spending is DOWN, in real terms, and WAY down in terms of percent of GDP)
  • And… the deficit is down by almost half from its highest point (which was the result of the last Bush budgets and the stimulus package of Obama’s first year, as well as sharply lower tax receipts because of the recession).

So this time around, there’s no deficit monster around to make this into a moral crusade for saving the country. So this time around… The GOP has fixated on Obamacare. “If we allow Obamacare to move forward, it’ll destroy the country,” they whine.

Fine. Then engage in a policy debate over Obamcare, and if you win the election, you can remove it. Oh wait… They did that. The 2012 election was pretty much a referendum on Obamacare, since that’s the only issue the GOP had.

And they lost.

So right now, They’re basically saying, “We lost the last election, but you have to do what we want, because otherwise we’ll blow up the entire country.”

That, my friends, is a position almost totally without precedent. The only time it’s happened before was in 1860, when the predecessors of  today’s GOP announced “We lost the last election, so we’re taking our states and leaving.”

It was called treason then. Today, it’s not clear what it should be called.

Who wants a government shutdown?

Not the mainstream of the GOP.  Think Progress has gathered these statements made by GOP Congressmen in the past few days:

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY): “The circus created the past few days isn’t reflective of mainstream Republicans — it projects an image of not being reasonable. The vast majority of Republicans are pretty level-headed and are here to govern.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): Asked on MSNBC on Monday if a shutdown was “going to hurt the Republicans,” Cole said, “I do, but more importantly I think it’s going to hurt the American people.”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA): “I’m prepared to vote for a clean resolution tomorrow… It’s time to govern. I don’t intend to support a fool’s errand at this point.”

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ): “Obamacare is definitely not ready for prime time. But I do not want the government to shut down. I think after voting against it some 40 times, we have represented our constituents and made our point.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY): “We should not be closing down the government under any circumstances… That doesn’t work, it’s wrong, and, you know, Obamacare passed. We have to try to defund it, we have to try to find ways to repeal it. But the fact is, we shouldn’t be using it as a threat to shut down the government.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): “We have to stay on the right side of public opinion… Shutting down the government puts us on the wrong side. The fight is on the debt limit.”

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL): “The shutdown doesn’t do anything to help our reputation as an incompetent Congress,.. People hire us not to get to this point in the first place.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “[W]e’re at the point now where we can’t shut down the government. It’s like burning down the house to get rid of the mice or rats… I don’t think very many think that a government shutdown is in the best interests of the economy and will actually accomplish the goal that’s set out.”

If 49 Republicans don’t want a shutdown, and would vote “YES” on a clean bill (note: that’s a bill that already incorporates previous GOP hostage-taking results such as massive spending cuts AND more cuts from the sequester – the so-called “clean” bill is ALREADY a total Democratic capitulation to the previous round of GOP demands), why isn’t there a vote?

Those 49 Republicans and the more than 200 Democrats could easily pass a clean bill.

But House Speaker John Boehner won’t allow a clean bill to come up for a vote.

Because the morning after he did that, he would have the Tea Part side of the Republican Party calling for his head on a plate. And they’d probably get it. Because the GOP House members are either Tea Party, or afraid of losing a GOP primary to the Tea Party.

They’re more afraid of losing their OWN  jobs than they are of millions of Americans losing THEIR jobs.

Which is why we’re in this mess.

As conservative writer Byron York complains:

Just look at what a member of the Republican majority told me after House Republicans had taken another step toward confrontation. “Analysts say the Congressional GOP doesn’t understand strategy,” the Republican said. “I’m like, ‘Congressional GOP’ my ass! It’s 30 idiots who can’t get us to 217.”

Conservative activist Doug Holtz-Eakin says the GOP is going to lose.  “The public budget debate has been hijacked by a vociferous minority of activist conservatives aligned with a number of outside activist groups led by the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz and former Sen. Jim DeMint,”

John McCain was even stronger. He called those guys the GOP “Suicide Caucus”.

If shutdown happens… what then?

Lots of stuff stops happening.

  • National Parks close to visitors (but don’t worry – oil and gas drilling can continue).
  • Food inspections shut down (you might want to just stay away from fresh meat for the duration).
  • Some nutrion programs stop providing food for kids (I think the GOP considers that a bonus, not a problem).
  • But it WON’T stop Obamacare. Enrollement begins on October 1, regardless.

If shutdown doesn’t happen… what then?

Get ready to do this all again next month.

Because another artificial deadling is looming – the Debt Ceiling. And the GOP have already put out a laundry list of demands for THAT hostage crisis – pretty much everything Romney ran on in the last election – and lost. It includes ramming through the Keystone XL pipeline, slashing environmental protection, and opening up EVERYTHING to oil drilling.

That should be even more fun.

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.