Boehner Tells GOP House Caucus: We Will Lose If There’s A Shutdown

Notwithstanding his public pronouncements, House Speaker John Boehner appears to still be averse to letting a shutdown happen:

Speaker John Boehner is warning his Republican colleagues that Democrats would “win” a government shutdown and the GOP would suffer a political catastrophe if the federal government runs out of money at the end of this week.

“The Democrats think they benefit from a government shutdown. I agree,” Boehner said during a closed-door, 90-minute meeting on House Republicans on Monday night, according to several lawmakers who attended the session.

Boehner’s opinion was quickly backed up GOP lawmakers who were serving in Congress during 1995, when former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) squared off with then President Bill Clinton by shutting down the government twice. Reps. Don Young (Alaska), Dana Rohrbacher (Calif.) and Buck McKeon (Calif.) — a close ally — supported Boehner’s position. Dozens of other Republicans rallied to support Boehner as well, in a moment that one GOP insider called a “turning point” for House Republicans.

“My view is that a government shutdown doesn’t benefit anyone necessarily, but if one party or the other is going to get an edge, it’s probably the Democrats. I agree with the speaker there,” Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) told POLITICO. “If you look at the government shutdown of 1995, it guaranteed President Clinton’s reelection. And that’s what this would do. If you want to cede the presidential race in 2012, you shut down the government.”

This position does have both logic and evidence in its favor, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some House Republicans:

The Republicans favoring a shutdown are convinced the political landscape is radically different this time around. They believe the power of the president’s “bully pulpit” isn’t as overwhelming as it was in Clinton’s time, and more voters will sympathize with the GOP’s efforts to shut down the government.

“This is not 1995,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is considering a gubernatorial run in the Hoosier State. “We have the internet, we have talk radio, we have an infrastructure to get our message out.”

Pence amplified this view during a Monday interview on ABC News, saying that Democrats would suffer more than the GOP.

“Look — if liberals in the Senate and in this administration want to continue to play political games instead of accepting very modest budget cuts, then if they’d rather embrace a government shutdown than make a down payment on fiscal responsibility, then I say shut it down,” Pence said on the “Top Line” webcast. “And I still feel very strongly that way.”

“The people who seem to be afraid of a government shutdown … are worried about getting elected in two more years,” Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) told the Washington Post. “I’m worried about having to go home and tell the folks that I grew up with, and intend to spend the rest of my life with, that I’m a liar.”

On the other side of the argument is one of Farenthold’s fellow Republicans:

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) has a famous slogan it plastered above the door in his congressional office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“Politics is not about ideological purity or moral self-righteousness, it’s about governing. And if you cannot compromise you cannot govern,” Simpson says, reciting the Henry Clay quote.

That is the battle that the GOP is dealing with now, and how it is resolved may decide the GOP”s fate for the next two years.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    If we assume for the sake of argument equal weight of points on both sides, then it comes down to who is speaking for either side.

    Which makes it Obama vs. Boehner.

    To make things even more difficult for the GOP, it’s Boehner with the loud help of Bachman and Palin and Glen Beck and Donald Trump and so very many desperate wanna-be candidates. Can Newt possibly be silenced? Yeah, I don’t think so, either.

    Obama can say we’ve cut X billion dollars, and cuts that are too severe will kill the recovery.

    Boehner and the wingnut chorus take the argument that we still need more because the deficit is still terribly high. And if they spoke with the skills of a Reagan they might well prevail. But they speak with the voices — very plural — of the shifty-looking, depressed orange guy and various crazy people who will do their best to remind us that Obama is a socialist Muslim Kenyan.

  2. Tlaloc says:

    This position does have both logic and evidence in its favor, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some House Republicans

    That statement, devoid of context, is perfect.

  3. anjin-san says:

    If the GOP had even a tiny shred of credibility as far as being the party of fiscal responsibility, they might be on to something. As it is, once you get past the Jay Tea and bithead types, it’s hard to fund people who will buy their cheese.

  4. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Reading a comment thread on a political blog is like observing the goings on at a psyche ward for ADHD rejects deprived of their meds.

    In any event, a shutdown will accomplish virtually nothing other than to hand Obama & Co. a rallying cry with which to dupe old and senile roboDemocrats into dragging themselves from their nursing homes to vote next year against the evil Republicans. It’ll be a similar dynamic to that which took place in 1995-1996. Boehner understands this. Other members of he caucus, not so much.

  5. wr says:

    You may be right, TNII. But since it was those old folks in the nursing home who handed the Rs the House in 2010, that kind of does it for your party…

  6. An Interested Party says:

    Reading a comment thread on a political blog is like observing the goings on at a psyche ward for ADHD rejects deprived of their meds.

    Indeed…reading what you have written proves that someone forgot to give you your Adderall today…oh, and Paul Ryan’s oh so “serious” plan will do far more to tilt the elderly (among many others) vote into the Democratic column…the ads write themselves…

  7. michael reynolds says:

    As an aside, who would take the screen name of Tsar Nicolas II? The guy was a feckless, p**sy-whipped, superstitious nitwit who managed to lose an empire. One of the great royal dumbasses of history.

  8. Pug says:

    … to dupe old and senile roboDemocrats into dragging themselves from their nursing homes to vote next year against the evil Republicans…

    Guess you don’t remember “death panels” and “killing Grandma”?

    The old folks put the Republicans where they are and they will wipe them out next election after they get a load of Paul Ryan’s voucher plan.

  9. ptfe says:

    “It’ll be a similar dynamic to that which took place in 1995-1996.” — Tsar Nicholas II

    Voting by age group
    ——————————–1992—–|——-1996
    —————————–Cl Bu Pe V% | Cl Do Pe V%
    18–29 years old—43 34 22 17 | 53 34 10 17
    30–44 years old—41 38 21 33 | 48 41 9 33
    45–59 years old—41 40 19 26 | 48 41 9 26
    60 and older ——- 50 38 12 24 | 48 44 7 24

    Right, so the “old and senile roboDemocrats” are the U60 crowd that showed up in the same numbers and voted more for Clinton than 4 years prior, particularly those in the 18-29 category.

    Seriously, TNII, just do a little research before you open your mouth. You might come across as a rational human being, rather than a less entertaining version of a wannabe silverback.