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.