The hypocrisy is stunning. After proclaiming (falsely) that the shutdown in 1995 was actually a win for Republicans and egging on colleagues to shut down the government this fall, House Republican hardliners – with encouragement from the Senate shutdown squad – now pass mini continuing resolutions so the little people won’t be hurt. They have discovered that public employees are people, too. What was the way to pressure President Obama to give way on his signature legislation is no longer that. So what is the point exactly of continuing the shutdown?
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who promised the president would blink in the face of a government shutdown, now calls it “Harry Reid’s shutdown.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was against the shutdown before he was for it, now says the president shut down the government. On “Meet the Press,” he spun his twisted version of events:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Senator, you were one of the ones early on who said you didn’t think a government shutdown was a good idea. However, when House Republicans made the defunding of ObamaCare or even the delay of ObamaCare their sticking point at which they would shut the government down if they didn’t get it, didn’t they basically make this result inevitable, by making that what they took a stand on?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, I think you’ve got it backwards. The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did. They funded all of government short of one program. So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this. They were wanting to fund government and then have a debate over ObamaCare.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: But come on, they have tried to defund ObamaCare more than 40 times. They know what the result will be. They live in the real world too. They knew this action would lead to a shutdown, and it did.
It’s enough to make center-right Americans who haven’t drunk the Cruz-Lee-Rubio Kool Aid scream — and demand these guys go away. Paul and his cohorts wanted the shutdown, now they don’t so much (but don’t want to give it up) and say it’s the fault of the White House. It’s enough to make you dizzy — or slightly seasick.
Some hardline House members concede that the shutdown won’t achieve Obamacare defunding. (Who knew?) Still, the shutdown squad is now willing to make the very same demand — by tying it to the debt ceiling. It is as if they have learned nothing and react to failure (to defund Obamacare) by doubling down.
The problem with these head-turning reversals and contradictory statements is not merely that they reveal the emptiness and dishonesty of the shutdown squad. It suggest they are so fixated on their own circular reasoning that they don’t bother to think seriously about how to proceed. Do they even know what they are seeking at this point?
House leaders decline to acknowledge openly that the hardliners aren’t get most of what they want. As a result, the hardliners dig in, certain that they are winning — although the shutdown hasn’t accomplished anything so far.
Don’t expect much to change until we get perilously close to the debt ceiling date (Oct. 17). It’s not exactly an advertisement for entrusting both houses of Congress to the GOP, is it?
Indeed, even if you think lawmakers have no higher obligation than to advance their party’s interests, the GOP still has failed, as GOP consultant Mike Murphy put it on Sunday, because rather than throwing the Democrats “a fire hose,” Republicans “threw them a lifeboat and a machine gun.” In doing so they let the Democrats back in the game, who themselves have encouraged the Republicans’ intransigence with unreasonable positions of their own.
So long as Republicans think they are winning the speaker and cooler heads in the Senate will have difficulty putting together a package that could resolve the CR and/or the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, the business community, suburban Republicans and lifelong conservatives shake their head in dismay. This mess and the delusion that one can reach unattainable goals at the country expense are not why they have supported Republicans. And if the GOP doesn’t get a grip, these voters might not do so in the future, or at the very least they might close their wallets to GOP candidates. And if Cruz and Jim DeMint think they have enough money and voters to elect GOP majorities, they are sadly mistaken.