Friday, April 8, 2011

House Crier: Faking a Shutdown

Hypocrisy is a pretense of having a virtuous character and principles that one does not really possess. Bare that in mind while I offer an observation that the threat of a government shutdown is just a threat. It is a bully’s threat that is about as credible as the tears of Speaker Boehner. The speaker’s tears demonstrate one of two things, that the shut-down threat is a fake or that the man is emotionally unbalanced. In either case, the threat will last until the very last minute, when it will be averted. Deals have already been cut.

Here is a quick example of this hypocrisy. Republicans especially are all about National Defense. They would sooner burn autographed pictures of Ronald Reagan than touch the Defense Budget, as they have demonstrated. However, as ABC News reports, if the government shuts down, US military personnel won’t get paid.

The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that the House passes legislation supported by the majority party, in this case the majority of the majority. Boehner’s freshmen are challenging his ability to do so. Representative Paul D. Ryan (R, WI), recently of Budget Committee fame, had very telling words about the tea party contingent who have propelled the threat of shutdown forward. “The new people did not come here for a political career,” he said. “They came here for a cause.”

Their “cause” is a risky government shutdown that they seem to think is alright. That opinion found voice in a former member of the House Budget Committee, Thad McCotter (R, MI), who says he thinks the “majority of the public would agree” that a partial shutdown of the federal government wouldn’t be that bad in their lives, according to ABC.

For Boehner the worse outcome is a split conference that pits the Republican establishment against the tea party contingency. Of course senior members of the Republican caucus like Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann, who seek to raise their profiles by establishing themselves as rebel leaders, make out but all future Republican progress would be undermined.

Republicans seem to intend to cut benefits and programs for the nation’s retirees and neediest citizens while protecting corporate America and the wealthiest people from paying their share of taxes. The ACLU opposes enacting their FY11 spending bill because it contains amendments that would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood to legislation that would impose an “abortion tax” on small businesses who want to provide abortion coverage in their employees health plans.

The government did shut down in 1995 and 1996 under Newt Gingrich’s speakership. Two years later, voters sent 20 Republican members packing and the speaker took the blame. The hypocrisy of the tea party ideological “cause” begs the question that if the Republicans cannot govern themselves, how they are supposed to govern the country?

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originally published on Blogcritics, April 6, 2011 as House Crier: Faking a Shutdown

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A couple of notes, April 8, morning of the shutdown threat:

“It’s not realistic to shut down the government on a debate dealing with abortion,” Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) said. “It’s not fair to the American people. We haven’t solved the issue in 40 years. We’re not going to solve it in the next 38 hours. We should not be distracted by ideology. This is a bill that funds the government.” (see ACLU above)

Gallup reports "The American public has clearly and consistently expressed a desire for elected officials in Washington to pass a new fiscal year budget without bringing government operations to a halt."

The New York Times reports that it is “the policy riders that are the real holdup to a deal.” To Republicans it’s all about abortion, environmental protection and health care. The hold up has nothing to do with jobs or the economy. Negotiators at the White House say “the issue of the spending cuts barely even came up. All the talk was about the abortion demands and the other issues.”

The shutdown is a made for TV event. Neither the White House nor the Republican leadership will let it happen and, contrary to Dave’s right intentions, there is already a continuing resolution in the breach ready for the moment of truth.

Aaron Sorkin has written a better teleplay, but it was performed by real actors.


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