Republican Party

Can Republicans Win a Government Shutdown?

Without a shutdown Republicans have no leverage to obtain anything useful from the White House.

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If Republicans do happen to force a shutdown in Washington, it's very possible they'll be embracing a political loser while doing the rest of us an immense favor.

With three Washington-manufactured fiscal apocalypses—sequestration, the debt ceiling and a new "budget"—on the docket, the idea of shutting down government to extract concessions from the iron trap sometimes known as the Obama administration has gained traction among Republicans. Or, I should say, the idea of threatening to shut down Washington has.

Pat Toomey, John Cornyn and other conservatives have said as much, though they've littered their shutdown statements with comforting modifiers, such as "partial" and "temporary," to allay the fears of Americans, who apparently can't fathom existence without the Department of Commerce. Certainly, it would energize the conservative base, and it might be effective in pressuring Democrats into genuine spending reforms. Because, despite what you may have heard, it's worked before.

As recent Washington arrival Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pointed out, "we didn't default on our debt" after the notorious 1995 shutdown battle between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. "And the result was balanced budgets—and some of the greatest fiscal responsibility we have seen in modern times from Congress—because fiscal conservatives stood together and said, 'We need to be responsible.'"

Gingrich, who has seemed to have some reservations about the shutdown through the years, now defends it in the context of policy, recently saying, "We would never have gotten to a balanced budget and we would never have gotten welfare reform without that fight." Can the Republicans claim political victory again? I'm skeptical.

First of all, Barack Obama isn't Bill Clinton. The level of ideological stamina in the White House, not to mention the willingness to fracture the nation to protect spending, is rather imposing. Moreover, Obama has no incentive to compromise after winning an election convincingly, and with the help of some of his friends in the media, he's been able to portray the GOP as obstructionists for failing to rubber-stamp his agenda.

Then, John Boehner isn't Newt Gingrich, either. For all we hear about the latter's eccentricities and faults, the Gingrich Congress—for a while there, at least—was imbued with a sense of purpose and offered Americans a cogent argument. Folks may not remember, but in the early phases of the fight, Clinton's poll numbers were dropping—and nothing hurt the man more.

The country, too, is different. We will never—and I mean never—hear Obama offer America a speech declaring the era of big government over, because, well, it would be preposterous, and it's not as if the country wants to hear it.

How Republicans shut down government matters, though. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would probably trigger panic in the markets. A more politically opportune time would be to deal with this when the government's general operating budget expires. Seeing as Senate Democrats have been unable to produce a budget for years—and not a single politician has voted for an Obama budget—Republicans have a case to make about responsible governing.

But even if the GOP risks losing the short-term politics, no matter how fortuitous a shutdown might be for Democrats, it isn't a situation any side could live with for an extended period of time. Obama would almost surely have to concede more on taxes and entitlement reform. Without a shutdown—or the threat of one—however, Republicans have no other leverage to obtain anything useful from the White House.

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  1. Do it! Shut it down! For once they would have something to do besides chiseling away at our rights.

  2. What does the GOP really have to lose at this point? The wimp strategy is not exactly working like magic.

    1. The secret is, they WANT to dpend more, and let Obama get the blame.

    2. The wimp strategy is not exactly working like magic.

      The same could be said for libertarians.

      It would appear that those who are most willing to use force, coercion, disinformation, lies, smears, aggression, and so on, and so forth, will always, at the end of the day, be the ones deciding the rules for everyone.

      1. That’s an inherent problem, politically, for non-aggression. The only people who want to operate the levers of government, by definition, are authoritarian fucks. Anybody who wasn’t an authoritarian fuck would have other more meaningful things to do with his life.

  3. The only way this is a losing strategy is if they let it re-start.

  4. Won’t happen. Boehner is once again going to fold like a cheap ass folding chair in return for non-existent spending cuts that take effect 30 years from now.

    1. Sad but true. Can’t you just picture the tears rolling down Boehner’s cheeks as he gives in to all their demands. Poor little fella.

  5. TEAM Red. Spineless pussies. Won’t do it.

    /thread

  6. Nope I’m pretty sure most of the country is quite sick of Republican bullshit games. Maybe if they were playing them for some discernibly useful purpose, but it’s all about, as it has ever been, their neverending quest to destroy social safety net programs and give the loot to the rich.

    They ran in election after election trying to attack Democrats for cutting Medicare, the exact thing they are threatening to shut the government down unless they get. I guess they only do these things when there’s a Democrat in the White House to blame.

    1. First, let me start by saying “Fuck off, sock puppet.”

      Next, why are the bullshit games the Republicans to own when the Harry Reid-led Democratic Senate hasn’t even passed a budget in 4 years, let alone proposed one?

      Both teams are a joke, and Obama is the Jester. But government shutdown is necessary. As we have seen when governments shut down or are otherwise incapable of completing their duties (post-Katrina vs. post-Joplin), human beings will fill the void to make sure the streets aren’t filled with starving/dying bodies. All it takes is for people to realize that being a worthless piece of shit gets you nothing if the government isn’t there to hand other people’s money to you. And government shutdown gets us there.

    2. Sick of the bullshit games? In case you missed the election, TEAM RED retained control of the House – the part of the federal government most sensitive to the public mood. I’m sick of the bullshit games of both teams, but the country apparently isn’t.

      As for the Medicare attacks hypocrisy, I guess it’s kind of like how you are against undeclared foreign wars only when a republican is in the White House. Make sense now?

      1. Were you aware that Democratic House candidates got more than half a million more votes than Republican House candidates? The only reason the GOP retained the House was because of rampant gerrymandering.

        Furthermore, Democrats gained seats in the Senate despite having many more seats at stake. And Barack Obama was reelected with more than 50% of the popular vote for the second time, the first time that’s happened since Eisenhower.

        The 2012 election indisputably handed a policy mandate to Democrats.

        1. Let me see if I got this straight.

          In your (certainly not humble) opinion, getting;

          52% of the presidential vote, in an election where almost half of registered voters stayed home, is a mandate?

          A margin of victory equal to 0.003% of the population is a mandate?

          Not having control of the House of Representatives where, according to the constitution all spending bills must originate, is a mandate?

          Losing the House of Representatives where ALL of the seats were part of the election is a mandate?

          I will grant you that the GOP does not have a mandate. DUH! But the Democrats failed to get a mandate either. I realize your liberal views make you immune to radical concepts, like math, but try to keep up with the class!

          1. pardon, my typo it was 0.3% of the population

          2. Anyone who uses the terms “mandate” or “obstructionism” is not to be taken seriously. (It was just as stupid when Republicans did it.) There is a process requiring negotiation and compromise to get to your goal. If are unable or unwilling to offer what is necessary to get the other side to compromise, that’s your problam.

        2. To Tony’s puppeteer.

          Not very convincing today. It’s like you weren’t even trying. Completely unbelievable. No one is THAT stupid.

          Try moar harder.

        3. GWB won 50.7% of the popular vote in 2004 you ignorant twat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U…..tion,_2004

          You’ve got a point on the gerrymandering though. Democrats would never do a thing like a that.

    3. T o n y| 1.10.13 @ 12:26PM |#
      “Nope I’m pretty sure most of the country is quite sick of Republican bullshit games.”

      You’re an idiot, shithead. No one cares what you “think”.

    4. “but it’s all about, as it has ever been, their neverending quest to destroy social safety net programs and give the loot to the rich.”

      Not taking = giving loot. Got it. Our criticism of Republicans is the exact opposite. They try to preserve these unsustainable “social safety net” programs that you’re so fond of. Hell, they even gave us Medicare Part D. The Democrats’ problem is that they can’t even comprehend that a system based on theft and extortion can’t be sustained.

      1. What’s funny here in California is that Democrats keep raising taxes and then are surprised when revenues drop. So, the answer is to raise taxes more. It’s a joke, but it won’t be funny much longer.

  7. Repugnicans will shut down the feral gummint simultaneously with the Necrotic Republican Apologists going all Heston on Joe Biden!

  8. The country, too, is different. We will never?and I mean never?hear Obama offer America a speech declaring the era of big government over, because, well, it would be preposterous, and it’s not as if the country wants to hear it.

    This x1000

  9. But what about All those poor schoolchildren who can’t get in to see the cool stuff at the Smithsonian?

    THIS IS WHY NOBODY TAKES LIBERTARIANS SERIOUSLY.

  10. their neverending quest to destroy social safety net programs and give the loot to the rich.

    The echo chamber inside Tony’s hollow head; awesome acoustics.

    1. empty-head Tony
      lives in echo, like thumping
      on a hollow gourd

      1. So it’s:
        5/7/5?

        1. Yes, but that is only an approximation. It’s supposed to be 5-7-5 on in Japanese, which aren’t the same as syllables exactly.

          1. And it’s also supposed to include a reference to time or a season.

            1. Aw, ’empty gourd’ means autumn, right?

    2. Poor Tony, his mother wasn’t content to merely drop his infant head on floor, she grabbed him by the ankles and jack-hammered.

  11. Let me see if I got this straight.

    In your (certainly not humble) opinion, getting;

    52% of the presidential vote, in an election where almost half of registered voters stayed home, is a mandate?

    A margin of victory equal to 0.003% of the population is a mandate?

    Not having control of the House of Representatives where, according to the constitution all spending bills must originate, is a mandate?

    Losing the House of Representatives where ALL of the seats were part of the election is a mandate?

    I will grant you that the GOP does not have a mandate. DUH! But the Democrats failed to get a mandate either. I realize your liberal views make you immune to radical concepts, like math, but try to keep up with the class!

  12. Shut it down! Clinton needs another blow job!

  13. Some time ago, when I worked inside the Beltway, there was a snowstorm a’coming that was going to shut down DC. Most companies were planning to do a furlough day. Not to worry, announced a local TV anchor, “Federal employees staffing critical functions would still be reporting for work.”

    And I thought to myself– if they aren’t critical, why are they employed at all?? If all it took to keep our system running was for that 10% “critical” staff to show up, why do we have the other 90% on the payroll??

    1. ^this X1000

      That’s exactly what a government shutdown demonstrates. Those ‘critical’ departments are the only ‘neccessary’ government functions. The rest is bloated largess and waste. No reason we can’t cut government by part of that 90%!

  14. BTW, the image is dying for alt-text.

  15. Can we all collectively buy an island and start over?

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