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Jerry Shenk

Shut it Down!

by Jerry Shenk

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, both Republicans, have squandered their negotiating leverage by repeatedly promising that, unlike 2013, there will be no 2015 government shutdown.
Pennsylvania GOP representative Charlie Dent told the NY Times: "I am very concerned. I don't think we need to…do a replay of 2013. It would be an enormous tactical and strategic blunder."

Washington's The Hill reported: "…[GOP] leadership allies are bracing for the worst." … "Charlie Dent, an Appropriations subcommittee chairman, said...that he's dreading 'another messy session.'"

Why? Because, by nature, appropriators gotta appropriate?

Dent also warned against the October, 2013 government shutdown. If that was an "enormous tactical and strategic blunder," then the political price paid must have been very steep.

Indeed, the price was steep, but Democrats paid it. Thirteen months later, in November, 2014, the GOP received an electoral bonanza -- extending their majority in the House and taking over the Senate.

Congressional conservatives forced the 2013 shutdown, and, in the process, taught their supporters some useful lessons: First, it takes guts, so, in order to stand on principle, a Republican officeholder must have some — of both. Second, the GOP's biggest problems are big-government, institutional, career Republican naysayers such as McConnell, Boehner and Dent.

McConnell's and Boehner's promises and Dent's anxieties aren't driven by America's interests. Those only confirm their personal fear of and opposition to their conservative colleagues' smaller-government policy objectives.

After his party won bicameral majorities, McConnell announced that his primary goal was to prove Republicans could "govern."

Writer Andrew McCarthy disagreed: "Presidents govern…legislators prescribe. Prescribing law and monitoring the administration's execution of it are crucial functions, but they are not governing, because lawmakers are powerless to carry out policy. Worse, the 'show we can govern' tripe is just a rationalization for capitulating to Obama. GOP leaders said they must prove they can overcome legislative gridlock and… 'get things done.'"
Congress has done things -- primarily things to advance the president's agenda.

Pre-blaming "inevitable" Senate filibusters or presidential vetoes for their unwillingness to act, institutional Republicans pretend to oppose the president while enabling him. GOP leadership's indulgences in empty rhetoric and meaningless votes on "conditions" or "expressing opposition" while passing authorization statutes are just political theater to avoid liberal media's accusations of "partisan gridlock," and conservatives' wrath for rolling over. GOP leadership "raises" issues without effectively opposing them, a "strategy" McCarthy calls "Surrender…Then Play-Fight."

Republican leadership's craven political calculus has already increased spending, funded Obamacare and allowed an unpopular nuclear deal with Iran. Look for leadership to lift "sequester," the only semi-responsible outcome of the 2013 shutdown, reauthorize federal funds for Planned Parenthood despite videos showing PP harvesting fetal, even live-born body parts for profit, and again raise America's debt limit, further burdening our progeny.
Clearly, GOP leadership cannot be trusted to make the tough decisions or pass the difficult measures required to return America to fiscal health and prosperity, and, unopposed, Democrats won't even try.
But, someone must try. Shut it down!

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