Even the Daily Beast can’t keep up the pretense that a government shutdown is in the offing:
If you listen to congressional Democrats, they will tell you that we are just days away from a Republican-led government shutdown. Republicans, they would have you believe, would take such a drastic action in retaliation over President Obama’s expected amnesty that would allow millions of undocumented aliens to stay in the United States without fear of deportation. To show their disapproval, the thinking goes, the Republicans would shut the government down in an act of petulance to retaliate against Obama and show their constituents they were standing up to the president.
As far as a strategy goes, the Democrats would be on to something — if only that’s what congressional Republicans were planning to do in the coming days.
They aren’t, as my own conversations with House leadership offices have confirmed. We are looking at a clean continuing resolution, which will continue implementation of the cuts that originated in the 2011 budget deal. The greatest virtue in that and the Ryan-Murray budget deal is that it promotes Republican prudence over recklessness. That, in turn, has deprived the Dems of a lifeline for the midterms.
It is reassuring that those at the forefront of the last shutdown are not threatening one now. Whether that is because of simple expediency or a philosophical shift, it should reassure Republicans and the electorate at large that conservatism as a political philosophy doesn’t entail suicidal gambits aimed to show how conservative its proponents are. Indeed, there is an argument that such behavior is incompatible with conservatism. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made this point in a January 2013 speech:
We have to be smart. We have to show prudence.
What do I mean? Well, prudence is good judgment in the art of governing. Abraham Lincoln called it “one of the cardinal virtues.” And it’s our greatest obligation as public servants. We have to find the good in every situation — and choose the best means to achieve it. We have to make decisions anchored in reality — and take responsibility for the consequences. The prudent man is like a captain at sea. He doesn’t curse the wind. He uses it — to reach his destination.
I’m not saying we should be excessively cautious. When we see an opening — however small — we should take it. What I’m saying is, if we want to promote conservatism, we’ll need to use every tool at our disposal. Sometimes, we’ll have to reject the president’s proposals. And sometimes, we’ll have to make them better.
But it doesn’t include shutting down the government. If the GOP wins the Senate majority, prudence will still be required. President Obama isn’t going anywhere for two years. That still allows votes on important policy objectives such as a replacement for Obamacare, higher ed reforms of the type Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has suggested, and perhaps even some anti-poverty measures that both sides have supported in the past. To paraphrase Ryan, sometimes they’ll take symbolic votes (forcing Dems to cast hard votes and Hillary Clinton to take tough stances). And sometimes they will look for mid-size or small deals that have bipartisan support. But they won’t be disabling the government by tying the GOP wish list to the debt ceiling or the CR. For now, prudence prevails.