Blaming Obama for Government Shutdown

Nick Gillespie advances the counterintuitive argument that President Obama is responsible for today's government shutdown.

Obama Oval Office Feet On Desk

Nick Gillespie advances the counterintuitive argument that President Obama is responsible for today’s government shutdown because, well, he’s president.

 [I]t is ultimately Barack Obama’s fault. He’s the deciderer, right, the top dog? The eight years of his time in office will be known to future generations as the Obama Years and not the Boehner Perplex or the Reid Interregnum.

It’s true that, rightly or not, presidents get the lion’s share of the credit and blame for things that happen during their tenure in office. But it doesn’t follow that everything that happens is within his ability to fix. The Constitution assigns the power of the purse to Congress and, well, it has not exercised it.

With great power – and Obama insists he has the unilateral right to kill anyone, even a U.S. citizen, that represents a national security threat – comes great responsiblity.

That’s a non sequitur. While I’m leery, indeed, of giving presidents that much power, it’s a simple fact of life that they have far more latitude in foreign and national security policy than they do domestic policy. And there’s perhaps no other area of domestic policy where they have less power than passing a budget through Congress.

Next, Gillespie accuses Obama of “peevishness” for refusing to negotiate with House Republicans by offering this explanation

“Steve when you say what can I offer? I shouldn’t have to offer anything,” Obama said. “They’re not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That’s part of their basic function of government; that’s not doing me a favor. That’s doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities.

Gillespie retorts:

But you do have to offer something now because you didn’t make sure to get a spending plan in place when there was more time to screw around.

Indeed, the shutdown is happening because the federal government doesn’t have a budget for fiscal 2014, which starts today. The reason it doesn’t have a budget is because the Republican-led House passed a budget calling for $3.5 trillion in spending, the Democratically controlled Senate passed a budget calling for $3.7 trillion in spending, and President Obama issued a proposal calling for $3.77 trillion in spending. This happened back in the spring. The House and the Senate passed their budget plans in late March. The president’s proposal, the last to be issued, came out on April 10.

And that much is right. The president is, unintentionally or otherwise, mixing up his talking points. He’s arguing, correctly I think, against negotiating on raising the debt ceiling with the threat of defaulting on the nation’s obligations. But that fight won’t happen for a few more weeks. Right now, the fight is over the continuing resolution—a workaround to deal with the fact that Congress has, yet again, failed to live up to its constitutional responsibility to pass a budget— and House Republicans have no especial obligation to fund programs passed by previous Congresses.

One could, I suppose, argue that Harry Reid and the Democrats are just as much to blame for the shutdown as Republicans. After all, both sides are refusing to give in on the same issue—funding of Obamacare—and Republicans have even offered multiple different compromise bills that Reid and company have summarily rejected. But that strikes me as a specious argument.

Given that the guy after whom Obamacare is nicknamed easily won re-election as president less than a year ago, in an election where said legislation was a key bone of contention, and given that his party retained control of the Senate and received more votes in races for the House than did the opposition party, it’s unreasonable, indeed, to pretend that the two sides are on equal footing. The minority party simply does not get to undo election results as a price for allowing the government to continue operating.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    From the Republican point of view, and especially from the Tea Party point of view, Obama was wrong the minute he showed up in black skin.

  2. JoshB says:

    But you do have to offer something now because you didn’t make sure to get a spending plan in place when there was more time to screw around.
    Indeed, the shutdown is happening because the federal government doesn’t have a budget for fiscal 2014, which starts today. The reason it doesn’t have a budget is because the Republican-led House passed a budget calling for $3.5 trillion in spending, the Democratically controlled Senate passed a budget calling for $3.7 trillion in spending, and President Obama issued a proposal calling for $3.77 trillion in spending. This happened back in the spring. The House and the Senate passed their budget plans in late March. The president’s proposal, the last to be issued, came out on April 10.

    He neglects to mention that the GOP blocked the next step in the budgetary process – the conference committee. The Republicans in the Senate blocked the committee from forming 18 times this year. They have wanted this hostage the entire time. They just don’t feel as if they deserve any blame when things get messy.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    I think Chait tore this apart perfectly.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/10/confused-libertarian-demands-strongman.html

    Hey, look, Gillespie is doing what he can with the tools available to him. His mission, should he wish to continue receiving wingnut welfare, is to carrying water for the GOP. He did the best he could.

  4. john personna says:

    All that is true AND the polling shows support for implementing Obamacare, not repeal.

    But a new survey of 1,976 registered voters finds that only 33 percent believe that the health law should be repealed, delayed, or defunded. 29 percent believe that “Congress should make changes to improve the law,” 26 percent believe that “Congress should let the law take effect” and see what happens, and 12 percent believe that the law should be expanded

    The law’s “unpopularity” has been misreported, even here at OTB. Whether the reporters were just confused, not recognizing that “unpopularity” can mean “the law should be expanded,” or whether they were pushing misinterpretation, I do not know.

  5. MattT says:

    Gillespie ignores the fact that the Senate CR – supported by Obama – is already a huge compromise, that would set spending levels much closer to Paul Ryan’s original proposal than to Obama’s.

    Comparison of Budget Proposals

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Another example of conservative reasoning on why Obama’s at fault for everything. If it weren’t for cum hoc, ergo propter hoc they’d have nothing.

  7. MattT says:

    Also, more evidence that the main purpose of reason.com and most libertarianism in general is to provide intellectual cover for the GOP.

  8. Mark Ivey says:

    Let the GOP civil war move to the next level…

  9. Tillman says:

    It’s stuff like this that kept me from keeping Reason on the reading list. They make good points, but they are too few and far between.

  10. mantis says:

    You’ve discovered Gillespie is a moron. Congrats.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @Rob in CT: @MattT: It’s just not true that Reason is a GOP party organ. They oppose all of the GOP’s social agenda and its entire foreign policy.

    @john personna: Most polls show less than majority support for the law, although that lumps together those who think the law has gone too far and those who think the law doesn’t go far enough. Support for repeal is a higher threshold.

  12. John D'Geek says:

    … yet again, failed to live up to its constitutional responsibility to pass a budget …

    Picking a nit here, but it’s not actually a responsibility — it’s a perrogative. There is nothing in the constitution that requires spending. Mind you, it’s a damned good idea … (I’m not fond of the idea of being defensless in the modern era)

  13. David M says:

    Given 1) the fact the House GOP refuses to vote on the clean CR from the Senate, 2) the Senate GOP prevented the Budget from going to Conference for months and 3) Obama has not vetoed a CR, it’s hard to take the claim very seriously.

  14. @James Joyner:

    It’s just not true that Reason is a GOP party organ. They oppose all of the GOP’s social agenda and its entire foreign policy.

    The problem with Reason isn’t partisanship, it’s laziness. There’s been a noticable decline in the quality of their writing the last few years. And a big source of that if that Gillespie seems to be putting more effort into his side job as The Libertarian Fonz than he is into actually being an editor.

  15. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    @john personna: Most polls show less than majority support for the law, although that lumps together those who think the law has gone too far and those who think the law doesn’t go far enough. Support for repeal is a higher threshold.

    I think threshold is not just the wrong word, it is the wrong concept in answer to what I was saying.

    Yes, the “should we repeal” question is directly applicable to “should we [repeal].”

    There is something else entirely going on when someone says “Republicans are trying to repeal Obamacare, a widely unpopular law.”

    What they are doing there is “free riding” on the “should be tried” and “should be extended” folks. That is, as I say, either confused or dishonest.

  16. ChrisB says:

    It’s not Congress’ fault there’s not a budget — it’s Congressional Republicans. Reid sent them a budget seven times, but they refused a conference committee.

  17. Scott says:

    It seems that critiques like this leads one to assume that the answer is to give the President even more executive power. If he is not allowed to wave his hand and say “Make it so”, then he is a failure. As they say, illogical.

  18. Gustopher says:

    With great power – and Obama insists he has the unilateral right to kill anyone, even a U.S. citizen, that represents a national security threat – comes great responsiblity.

    And yet, if Obama were to declare the shutdown to be a national security threat and kill the Republican congresscritters, Nick Gillespie would complain that Obama was overstepping his authority, or mutter something about an imperial Presidency or something, probably phrasing it with a Spider-man quote.

    The man is just a hack, opposed to anything Obama does.

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    Obama has finally figured out that you can’t negotiate with people who won’t negotiate but only demand and won’t listen but only talk.

  20. john personna says:

    Perhaps one reason Republicans went ahead with shutdown was BECAUSE support for Obamacare was widely misreported in their ranks.

    They convinced themselves that “dislike” meant “repeal” even when it meant “willing to try it” or “‘want to extend it.”

    Of course, if you said “willing to try it” in a poll, and a pundit or politician moved you to the “repeal” column, your opinion was pretty thoroughly disrespected.

  21. Barry says:

    @Tillman: ” They make good points, but they are too few and far between. ”

    It’s a rare voice which never makes a good point now and again. In the end, the question is how many and how often. When it’s ‘rarely’ and ‘every few years’, it’s just not worth paying attention to them.

  22. Franklin says:

    As I basically said in the Christie thread, it’s called separation of powers. Gillespie, like Christie, thinks the executive branch is exactly like a business executive.

  23. JKB says:

    The minority party simply does not get to undo election results as a price for allowing the government to continue operating.

    Surely, you are aware that the past is the past and what matters is the next election. Even with a new President, which we didn’t get last election, the honeymoon of indulgence is only about 6 to 18 months long. And that can be cut short by a turn of events.

    In any case, today is proof your statement is simply not true as the federal government is running on essential services. It may be beyond the comprehension of many of the DC pundits but as we’ve learned most of them have no clue how federal appropriations work with their surprise at the Anti-Deficiency Act and all. And one reason everything is getting shutdown instead of just some departments with outstanding appropriations bills is because there hasn’t been a federal budget passed in years due to the Democrat controlled Senate refusing to pass budget bills. So even those departments and programs on multi-year appropriations are past their appropriations.

    Personally, I think clearing up the shutdown today would be a good move. Then off to point out that the not ready for primetime opening of Obamacare could have benefited from the delay that Obama and the Senate Democrats refused to contemplate when the House tried to negotiate. This being a continuing resolution, just present a “clean-bill”, to carry on to January 1 so there is an extension to do a proper budget.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Obama has finally figured out that you can’t negotiate with people who won’t negotiate but only demand and won’t listen but only talk.

    I think what Obama figured out was that he has no one to negotiate with. Neither Boehner or McConnell can deliver the votes on any deal they hash out. Let the blood be spilled and when the GOP civil war has shaken out, he will know who he really has to work with.

  25. JKB says:

    @Ron Beasley: Obama has finally figured out that you can’t negotiate with people who won’t negotiate but only demand and won’t listen but only talk.

    I doubt Obama has ever achieved that level of self-awareness.

  26. al-Ameda says:

    It’s nice that Nick Gillespie, who ought to know better, does not know how our system of government works. You know, the separation of the branches, stuff like that.

  27. David M says:

    @JKB:

    there hasn’t been a federal budget passed in years due to the Democrat controlled Senate refusing to pass budget bills.

    You do know the Senate passed a budget this year, and the GOP refuses to go into conference to work out the differences between it and the House, right? That’s kind of basic information that anyone discussing the issue should know.

  28. Rob in CT says:

    It’s just not true that Reason is a GOP party organ. They oppose all of the GOP’s social agenda and its entire foreign policy.

    Ok, fair enough. Let me revise:

    Carry water for the GOP on economic taxation/spending matters.

    That’s the alliance. I agree the alliance breaks down over “social issues” but I think we both know which area (taxation/spending or social issues) is dominant in the relationship.

  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @JJ:

    One could, I suppose, argue that Harry Reid and the Democrats are just as much to blame for the shutdown as Republicans. After all, both sides are refusing to give in on the same issue—funding of Obamacare—and Republicans have even offered multiple different compromise bills that Reid and company have summarily rejected.

    I have a difficult time seeing how the Republicans offered “multiple different compromise bills” when the “compromises” they offered either turned on defunding or delaying aspects of the Democrat’s signature policy achievement.

    I’m kinda missing the entire “compromise” part of those offers.

    BTW, I realize that you’re not writing in support of the GOP on this one James, but I’m seriously interested in where you see the compromise in the House proposals, which at least to me, seemed to be constructed as messages to their base, rather than offers to the Senate.

  30. James Pearce says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The problem with Reason isn’t partisanship, it’s laziness.

    That’s the problem with libertarianism in general. They are too fixated on “public versus private” to understand the power structures that actually define our interactions, and their tendency to deal with the abstract has little utility in the real world. That’s why you get libertarians crying every time a cop shoots a vicious dog and shrugging their shoulders when a gun nut shoots an unarmed teenager in the dark.

    There’s been a noticable decline in the quality of their writing the last few years.

    To be fair, there’s only so many times one can write the “In Defense of (Something Awful)” piece.

  31. @JKB:

    Surely, you are aware that the past is the past and what matters is the next election.

    This is the logic that keeps us in perpetual campaign mode.

    Yes, it gets harder to govern as election campaigns draw nigh, and hence the notion of a honeymoon period. However, regardless of when the next election is, the current government was duly elected and has the right to govern as a result. Or, at least, the minority cannot claim more political legitimacy than the majority party. Such a stance defies logic.

    Indeed, since repealing Obamacare was a plank of the GOP 2012 platform, and since they are minority party after that election, the electoral connection on the legislation is pretty clear and does not need a future election to determine.

  32. C. Clavin says:

    “…there hasn’t been a federal budget passed in years due to the Democrat controlled Senate refusing to pass budget bills…”

    Are you able to understand why, now…you idiot.

  33. Thanks for this excellent rebuttal to Gillespie, James. That guy sends my blood pressure up every time he puts his fingers on his keyboard.

  34. MattT says:

    @James Joyner: It’s just not true that Reason is a GOP party organ. They oppose all of the GOP’s social agenda and its entire foreign policy.

    Yet when the choice is between personal liberty like allowing women control over their own bodies, issues where they actually make sense like prison sentencing reform, and a foreign policy of limited intervention on the one hand, and tax cuts on the other, on votes that matter they’ll take the tax cuts (and the GOP) every. single. time.

  35. Moosebreath says:

    @MattT:

    “Yet when the choice is between personal liberty like allowing women control over their own bodies, issues where they actually make sense like prison sentencing reform, and a foreign policy of limited intervention on the one hand, and tax cuts on the other, on votes that matter they’ll take the tax cuts (and the GOP) every. single. time.”

    Yep, that’s the working definition of Libertarianism. Whatever they say about individual rights, they will trade them all in a heartbeat for a drop in the marginal tax rate.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @David M:

    You do know the Senate passed a budget this year, and the GOP refuses to go into conference to work out the differences between it and the House, right?

    No, he doesn’t. He watches Fox News and listens to Limbaugh every day.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    Obama ran on Obamacare. He passed Obamacare. Then he ran for re-election on Obamacare and won. So the GOP shuts down the government, throws hundreds of thousands of people out of work and threatens to destroy the economy unless the LAW OF THE LAND, upon which the people have already spoken, is repealed.

    This isn’t politics. There is nothing normal about this. There is nothing acceptable about this. This is an attack on American democracy by fanatics. The GOP threatens to do more economic harm than all the terrorists put together. The Republican party is now openly fascistic and decidedly racist.

  38. john425 says:

    Let us be clear: Obama deserves chief responsibility for Gov’t shutdown.

    Boehner and the GOP may well be ‘anarchists’ and Reid and the Dems may be useless. But it’s the president who runs the show.” Obama wanted a shutdown, and Obama got a shutdown. He likes chaos, division and fingerpointing.

  39. john personna says:

    @john425:

    lolz. yeah, I’m pretty sure “it’s the president who runs the show” that was taught in high school civics. No “division of powers,” whatever that means.

  40. David M says:

    @john425:

    You might have to explain a little more how the House GOP refusing to pass a CR is Obama’s fault. He can sign or veto the bill after it’s passed, but if the GOP chooses to shut down the government, he can’t force them to keep it open.

  41. Will says:

    Isn’t Nick Gillespie the brave libertarian Reason editor who gets his health insurance via the country of France (his wife is French)? Didn’t he write an article once explaining why that somehow still didn’t make him a complete hypocrite?

  42. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Will:
    You may be confusing him with Matt Welch.

  43. al-Ameda says:

    @john425:

    But it’s the president who runs the show.” Obama wanted a shutdown, and Obama got a shutdown. He likes chaos, division and fingerpointing.

    “it’s the president who runs the show.”

    Well, then, why didn’t the president just sign an Executive Order extending the Debt Limit and authorizing a Continuation of Spending? Damn! I send him an e-mail right away.

  44. agorabum says:

    If the Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, it’s easy: in our system, they can win the House, Senate, and Presidency, or just get a veto-proof majority in Congress. Simple! What they are doing is basic extortion, no matter the results at the ballot box. As noted by a campaigning Abe Lincoln at Cooper Union when faced with similar tactics:

    Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. This, plainly stated, is your language…
    In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”
    To be sure, what the robber demanded of me – my money – was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle….
    Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @agorabum: There you go again, quoting the Founding Father of the Republican Party…

  46. pylon says:

    Damn – I was just going to post that same quote.

  47. Eric Florack says:

    @michael reynolds: Is HILLSRY Clinton Black, too, or is there some other reason Hillary care was just as unpopular?

  48. Ben Wolf says:

    @Will: Gillespie is the guy with the vacuous expression who sleeps in his leather jacket. He also has won awards for least understanding of economics and total unfamiliarity with grade school-level math.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Eric Florack: If you can’t tell the difference, you should shut the F up.

    Really, how stupid does one have to be to post such an inane comment? HEY IDIOT???? Obamacare is what the Republicans PROPOSED in response to Hillary Care!!!

    (mumble grumble, box of rocks, sack of hammers…)

  50. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Obamacare is what the Republicans PROPOSED in response to Hillary Care

    I know, it is pretty amazing, isn’t it?

  51. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: oh god, the race card again? he’s half black/white and it’s an issue with democrats more than anything. how many black congressmen are elected by white democrats?
    the president is supposed to deal with adversity, it’s part of his job.

  52. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Is HILLSRY Clinton Black, too, or is there some other reason Hillary care was just as unpopular?

    It was unpopular because she was a Clinton and not a Republican. Any other questions? ACA is unpopular among know-nothings for 2 reasons (1) Obama is not a Republican, although somewhat amusingly he used a conservative Republican idea as the basis of ACA, and (2) he’s Black.

  53. wr says:

    @bill: “he’s half black/white and it’s an issue with democrats more than anything. ”

    Um, no. Really, anyone who refers to him as “half black/white” is pretty much giving his own game away. Normal human beings understand that race is a social construct not measured by the percentage of “black” or “white” blood. Now you may feel free to explain how it’s the Dems who are the real racists.

  54. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    You are pretty heavily invested in your “Obamacare is unpopular” meme. You know what’s unpopular? Historically low tax rates on the rich, Should we then raise taxes on the rich because the polls say that’s what is the popular move?

    Feel free to scurry back under your rock to avoid answering.

  55. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    I doubt Obama has ever achieved that level of self-awareness.

    Yea, that Obama. What a loser. Columbia, Harvard, self-made millionaire. Devoted to his beautiful family. Best selling author. US Senator. Twice elected President, when running against people who were pillars of the establishment long before anyone had heard Obama’s name.

    Say JKB, why don’t you list a few of the achievements that your higher level of self-awareness has led you to?

    Hmm. Just had a thought. Maybe Obama is not aware enough to know that his being President is kind of… uppity.

  56. michael reynolds says:

    This entire thing, this manufactured crisis, has nothing to do with Obamacare. This is about undoing the people’s will. This is about destroying the uppity n–ger in the White House. That’s all it has ever been about.

    Am I saying that all Republicans are racists? No. Just enough of them.

  57. An Interested Party says:

    the president is supposed to deal with adversity, it’s part of his job.

    Very true…the president often has to deal with the issue of terrorism…

  58. Mom of 4 says:

    Perfect compromise: Dems give on delaying Obamacare/ACA for a year and Reps give on banning assault weapons. Seeing as how the Rs would never give on anything related to guns, why should the Ds give on their signature accomplishment? Both have so much to do with a CR (snark, if ya can’t tell…)

  59. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve never read Reason and was only aware of Gillespie’s existence through references to the Fonzi of Freedom. I made the mistake of reading the piece at the link. Then I made the bigger mistake of looking at the comment thread. What an incredible cesspool of ignorance and mindless snark. Worse than Politico. Makes one appreciate OTB.

  60. Barry says:

    Jonathan Chait pointed out that Gillespie is basically blaming Obama for not being a dictator. This is an odd position for an alleged libertarian to take, but then again Gillespie is only an alleged libertarian.

  61. Rob in CT says:

    As Kevin Drum points out:

    Democrats Have Already Caved In to Republicans

    Yet another in my series of quick reminders: Democrats have already agreed to fund the government at Republican levels. In other words, they’ve already caved in. It wasn’t even a compromise. They’ve just flatly given in to Republican demands to continue funding at sequester levels.

    This is the CR that Republicans now refuse to pass.

    Also, too: regarding Obama’s role in particular. Remember the fiscal cliff negotiations? Apparently in the aftermath, the Teahadies told Boehner he wasn’t allowed to negotiate with O 1-on-1 anymore, and he bowed to their will. Republican supporter response? “Oh, that Obama isn’t leading.”

    Idiots.

  62. Rob in CT says:

    Something I’d been meaning to bring up, but kept forgetting…

    Over at Wonkblog, Lydia DePillis asks, “Remember when Republicans were worried about ‘economic uncertainty’?”

    Actually, no, I don’t. I remember when they claimed to be worried about economic uncertainty — but it was completely obvious even at the time that this was nothing but an attempt to put a new, quasi-academic gloss on the same old same old. What they really meant was that the economy will boom only once we get rid of the Islamic atheist Kenyan socialist, and install someone who will be nice to rich people. They grabbed hold of some research that seemed, if you didn’t read it carefully, to support their complaints, but there was never any question that they would drop the uncertainty thing the moment it became inconvenient for their real goals. And so they did.

    It’s a lot like the austerity debate, where it was obvious all along that all the carping on debt was really a way to go after the welfare state — a point demonstrated forcefully by the hostile reaction of people like Olli Rehn when the French began reducing their deficit by raising taxes rather than slashing benefits.

    The point is that there are a lot fewer good-faith economic arguments out there than a naive observer might think — and that’s precisely because powerful forces are doing their best to hoodwink said naive observers.

    So, goodbye “economic uncertainty”. The truth is that nobody ever took it seriously.

    The Shrill One, at it again, pointing out the bloody obvious.

  63. Moosebreath says:

    A potential way forward?

    “Reps. Charles W. Dent, Michael Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan, and Jon Runyan – all from moderate districts and all more vulnerable to a political challenge than most House members – urged the GOP to offer a “clean” bill that would fund the government without attaching any changes to President Obama’s sweeping health law.”

    Now they need about 15 more…

  64. gVOR08 says:

    @Barry:

    Gillespie is only an alleged libertarian

    Is there another kind?

  65. Rob in CT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Don’t they need 15 more, PLUS Boehner’s consent to ditch the Hastert rule?

  66. Ken says:

    Nick Gillespie advances the counterintuitive argument that President Obama is responsible for today’s government

    One small editorial nitpick, James — you spelled “counterfactual” wrong.

  67. Ken says:

    @Matt Bernius: I realize that you’re not writing in support of the GOP on this one James, but I’m seriously interested in where you see the compromise in the House proposals,

    Well, you see, their first proposal was something like this: “We want all the cops to leave, ten million dollars, a van, and a fully-fuelled private jet waiting at the airport, or we start killing one hostage per hour.

    But their second proposal was much more reasonable: “We want one million dollars and a Cessna Caravan or we’ll start killing one hostage per hour”

    It’s clear that they are willing to compromise. It’s just too bad the other side is so appallingly intransigent.

  68. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This is about destroying the uppity n–ger in the White House. That’s all it has ever been about.
    Am I saying that all Republicans are racists? No. Just enough of them.

    And we have a measurement that can approximate how many Republicans are racists. Since 2009 polling has consistently showed that nearly half of Republicans support the Birther contention that Obama is not legitimately the president of the United States, based on his lineage. That is a good approximation of the number of Republicans who are racist.

  69. Moosebreath says:

    @Rob in CT:

    “Don’t they need 15 more, PLUS Boehner’s consent to ditch the Hastert rule?”

    There’s some maneuver which allows a bill which is being held up to go to the floor if a majority of the Representatives sign a petition to do so. This would override Boehner.

  70. Moosebreath says:

    @Moosebreath:

    And proving that great minds (and mine) think alike, here is the Wonkbook description of how to do it.

  71. Tillman says:

    @Moosebreath: Something tells me House Democrats aren’t willing to bail Boehner out of this mess.

    It’s been the contention of the commentary here that Democrats wouldn’t be so callous as to threaten to, or actually, shutdown the government to get something they wanted since Democrats are actually invested in government working. I support that contention. However, I think Republican leadership has bloodied the waters too much for simple reconciliation to work. The Democrats are angry with the posturing, and with the shutdown they will be playing the waiting game until it becomes obvious they’re paying too high a price.

    This is why hard right-wingers can claim the Democrats caused the shutdown/are keeping it going, but their claims ring hollow in the face of history. In a way, the idea of “breaking the fever of the hard right” in the Republicans, floated for years now, has finally been given its day in the Democratic party.

  72. Tillman says:

    Also, I know this is off-topic, but does anyone else hear Obama laughing “hee hee hee” when they look at that picture?

  73. john425 says:

    @john personna:

    As leader of the Democrats, he has strong authority to move his party’s members. Of course liberals here all dismiss the notion that Harry Reid’s Senate has no role in these matters. Blame it on the House Republicans seems to be the mantra. Lefties conveniently overlook Democrat Senate intransigence.

  74. Moosebreath says:

    @Tillman:

    I will disagree. I think if the Democrats see a choice between a clean continuing resolution, and several more weeks of shutdown in order to try to “break the fever of the hard right”, they will choose the clean CR.

  75. Rob in CT says:

    @john425:

    Yes, why oh why won’t the Democrats “compromise” with the GOP by allowing the GOP to leverage a partial government shutdown and/or debt ceiling breach for policy concessions they otherwise cannot get, being that they only control 1/2 of Congress? Why are the Democrats so unreasonable? I mean, they always cave… this isn’t right! They’re supposed to give in. They supposed to surrender! What do you mean they aren’t doing it? IT’S NOT FAAAAAIIIIIRRRRR!

    [Of course, I still worry they will surrender, because I know them all too well]

  76. john425 says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You have a selective memory. I recall Republicans being totally shut out of that mess called Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi remarked that we’d have to read it to see what’s in it. Unfortunately for America, Nancy never read it either.

  77. Realist53 says:

    It’s it interesting to read all the slanted comments here.

    1. The majority of Americans do not approve of the health care law, you may have one poll to point to, but you need to see them from different organizations, Real Clear Politics

    2. Yes the democrats won in the last election, but there was more than just one issue, ie gay marriage, war, etc, so to use the idea that the vote was an approval of the heath care law is just plain wrong

    3. Our government was set up so the minority of Americans still had some ability to not get overrun by laws from the majority, so the parties should negotiate, each needs to give to reach a middle ground, unlike past Presidents, Obama has never shown an ability to do that

    4. If everything that is happening today is the fault of the republican party, since they control the house, why was all the blame put on Bush, his last 2 years the congress was controlled by the Democrats

    5. As a President Obama fails for one main reason, he continually blames, puts down and insults the other party. This may work for abusive husband in a marriage to control his spouse, but is not how a leader in a democratic society should act. You lead by bringing people willingly together, Obama does not have the ability to do that!

  78. Rob in CT says:

    @john425:

    No.

    Republicans were courted for months on healthcare reform. Remember the “Gang of 6?” Of course you don’t, because you’ve put that down the memory hole. Republicans were not shut out, they opted out. They refused to get involved unless the reform. They tried to run their usual playbook, which worked in the 1990s: claim to be for a different sort of reform that wasn’t really on the table. At one point, some folks pointed out that there were a few Republican co-sponsors of a different bill – the Healthy Americans Act, also known as Wyden-Bennett. Wyden (D) and Bennett (R) had proposed this, and it actually was an interesting idea that, if I understand it correctly, would have severed the connection between employment and health insurance. However, as soon as the media started talking about Wyden-Bennett as a possible alternative, GOP support vanished like a fart in the wind. And Bennett got primaried.

    So yeah, bullshit.

  79. Rob in CT says:

    @Realist53:

    You cannot compromise with people who will not take yes for an answer, ala today’s GOP. The Dems have compromised, and will continue trying to. The GOP increasingly thinks compromise is a dirty word.

    Also, too: regarding your whine in #4: Bush & Co. got the blame for the 6 years when they had POTUS and both houses of Congress. The last two years when the Dems held the HoR, they didn’t do a helluva lot, in part because they didn’t use the scorched earth tactics the GOP came to use starting on 1/20/09.

    Also, in 2009 the GOP had lost the Presidency, House and Senate. Where was *their* humility and willingness to compromise? Whenever this comes up, it’s always Democrats who must compromise (when they win elections) or surrender (when they’ve lost elections). When the GOP is in power, there’s none of this bullshit about compromsing and playing nice with the Dems. Then it’s hey, elections have consequences, pound sand.

  80. Realist53 says:

    @Rob in CT: So if we blamed Bush for all of the problems 4 years ago, why is Obama exempt from blame now, he had both houses his 1st 2 years and so it is still the GOP’s fault?

    The definition of compromise to to meet somewhere in the middle

    Bush started his Presidency with a democratic Senate
    So he had only 4 of his 8 years with both houses GOP, and he never had the Super-majority that Obama had which allowed him to push through Obama-care without any support from the GOP.. Note that the Senate is set up so that the minority, unless there is a Super-majority, will have some say

    During the 1st 2 years of Obama’s presidency he did not compromise at all with the GOP, he did however have to compromise within his own party, and during that time

    Where is Obama compromising now with the shutdown of the government?
    Please state two issues that Obama has compromised with the GOP in his 5 years?
    I doubt that you can find them

  81. Realist53 says:

    @Rob in CT: Regarding the gang of 6, that plan was completely disregarded by the Democrats when they created the Obama-care law. Did you ever watch any of the round table discussions with the Obama and the congress over Obama-care. The GOP made many comments and asked for changes to the law and got NONE of them. I called Wydens office and asked why he didn’t pursue his plan, but got no real answer, even though he is from my state

    Remember the gang of 6 plan was dropped by the Democrats when they had both houses and a super-majority, so How do you blame that failure on the GOP?