Republican Infighting Over Ridiculous Government Shutdown Schemes?

There seems to be a divide developing between Republican leadership and the Tea Party over the idea of shutting the government down over Obamacare.

Elephants Fighting

In an interview with National Review’s Robert Costa, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor seems to place himself firmly behind those who are arguing against the idea of shutting down the government unless President Obama and the Democrats agree to defund the Affordable Care Act:

As the fall’s fiscal drama nears, a group of conservative lawmakers is urging Republican leaders to use Obamacare as a bargaining chip. Behind the scenes, they’re warning Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell that unless the president’s signature law is defunded, they won’t support a “continuing resolution” to fund the federal government.

The debate has caused tension in the ranks since many Republicans are uncomfortable with talk of a shutdown. Speaking with National Review Online on Friday, House majority leader Eric Cantor clarified the House’s strategy. ”No one is advocating a government shutdown,” he said.

He also threw a little cold water on the “defund or shutdown” rallying cry. ”In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution,” he explained. “To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.”

Cantor’s numbers are actually slightly off. With a Democrat in the White House, you’d actually need 23 Democrats to join Republicans in the Senate, along with 56 Democratic to join Republicans in the House in order to override an inevitable veto. And that quite simply is not going to happen any time in the foreseeable future. Indeed, it’s hard to see any effort to defund, delay, or repeal the PPACA succeeding unless and until Republicans control the White House and the Senate along with the House. That simply isn’t going to happen before 2017 at the earliest, and probably not then either if things keep going the way they have been..

Additionally, Cantor is being slightly disingenuous in arguing that “no one is advocating a government shutdown,” because that is exactly what people like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, along with groups like the Heritage Foundation, are spending the summer recess doing. Either because they are stubborn or because they simply refuse to recognize reality, these people seem to believe that there is some realistic scenario under which the House GOP and the Republican minority in the Senate could force the President and Senate Democrats to agree to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. They never seem to be able to provide a realistic scenario under which they could achieve these results. Of course, it’s possible that they don’t actually care about achieving anything, and that these unrealistic plans of there’s are meant mostly for the consumption of the base as a means to both rally that base and to make sure that donations keep flowing in to the various Tea Party related organizations that take these unreasonable positions. It wouldn’t be the first time that grifting was the name of the game among conservative political activists.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen a prominent Republican speaking out against this latest government shutdown scheme. No less a fiscal hawk that Senator Tom Coburn has been making similar points to those that Cantor made for weeks now. However, unlike Cantor, Coburn is not a member of leadership so these comments arguably carry much more weight and are meant to send a clear message to those on the right still intent on engaging in what is clearly a strategy that is destined to fail.  Whether they’ll listen to him is another question entirely.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, Tea Party, 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Why just yesterday in the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, Jim DeMint (now t Heritage) seemed to be urging Republicans to take this fight to the end. I believe that, basically, Republicans are all in on this.

    Two years ago these same greaseballs were willing to leverage the Debt Limit “negotiations” into a downgrade of American debt, why would they be interested in negotiations with congressional Democrats over ACA, and/or the next Debt Ceiling struggle for that matter?

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    GOP on the crazy train….

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    It would appear the main thing the Democrats have going for them is the Republican crazy train. The seniors are even turning against them.

  4. stonetools says:

    I have said earlier (and still believe) that the Republicans WILL shut down government some time this year, Eric Cantor’s protestations notwithstanding. When the inmates take over the asylum, it doesn’t matter what the deposed wardens say.

  5. James Pearce says:

    We’re going on a decade now where the Republicans have not been able to deliver on what they’ve been selling. And yet it’s not even like ordering something from Amazon and receiving an empty box. Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy: It’s more like ordering something from Amazon and receiving on your doorstep a flaming box of dog shit.

  6. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: A couple weeks back my wife ordered a pack of air filters for our home A/C unit. We received a pack of air filters and a kitchen sink. No idea how that happened–she didn’t order the sink, we were not charged for it, and when we called Amazon to tell them we’d gotten an unordered sink, the response was “we don’t know how to take it back.” So now a $300 stainless steel sink sits in my foyer, still in the box.

    Until I find someone to unload it on for $200. Big discount, you want it?

  7. Mikey says:

    This seems relevant: Ideological fixation

  8. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Mikey: Usually one receives everything BUT the kitchen sink…

  9. Moosebreath says:

    As I pointed out on another thread, I tend to agree with Josh Marshall that McConnell’s primary challenge will make avoiding a shut down much harder.

    “For all his nonsense, since 2010, it’s McConnell who has secured deals several times to prevent congressional Republicans, particularly House Republicans, from running the economy totally off the rails. But now he’s in a fight for his political life at home to prove that he is the ultimate Tea Partier. So anything he goes soft on, like avoiding the shutdown of the entire federal government or preventing the first debt default in US history, will get laser-like scrutiny on the right and perhaps lead to his undoing at home. That could mean losing his primary battle with Bevin – which I agree is quite unlikely but not impossible – or getting so beat up during the battle that he’s too damaged to defeat Grimes next Fall.”

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Cantor is being slightly disingenuous

    No he isn’t. He’s lying.

    Politifact caught a lot of well deserved grief a few days ago for rating as half true a statement by Cantor that the deficit is rising, when it is in fact falling.

    Why is it so hard to say he lied? Try it a few times. You’ll not be struck by lightning. Your friends will probably still have dinner with you. Your prose will be less prolix. And you won’t be enabling their lying.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    What fun! This Post just sent me on a round of reading on RedState and TownHall and similar and those good folks and true actually believe that they are manning the ramparts in a last defense of liberty. They know that after millions of Americans find they can buy health insurance that is required to take them (no matter what prior health conditions they have) and actually help them through lifelong illnesses (without spending limits) and that the federal government will help them pay for it if needed, liberty is dead. They know that their real enemy is the Republican establishment; people like Senator Bob Corker, Congressman Cantor and Senator Cornyn are going to roll over for the jackbooted govenment thugs coming to take our precious freedom.

    It’s like a vacation: A brief sojourn in a lost world where the people seem to be speaking english but the meanings are all different.

    Obviously, Republican leaders have got a tiger by the tail and as much as they wish they could let it go, alas….

    There’s not enough popcorn in the world.

  12. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? A government shut down is not going to happen and the Republicans have zero influence on policy or governance in the U.S. The Obama Administration will get what it wants this year and next and there is nothing the Republicans can do about it.

  13. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The Obama Administration will get what it wants this year and next and there is nothing the Republicans can do about it.

    You mean like in 2011, when Republicans leveraged the fight over the Debt Ceiling into a downgrading of American bonds?

  14. JWH says:

    @Mikey:
    I thought Amazon had everything but the kitchen sink.

  15. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    And what was the long term effect of the lowering of the bond rating? What policy did the downgrading really effect? What programs have been cut due to the downgrading? Once gain, no effect in the long term.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    And what was the long term effect of the lowering of the bond rating? What policy did the downgrading really effect?

    Short-term effect: thousands of investors saw their bond holdings lose value. Long-term effect: Republicans learned that they can do a lot of damage and not pay any political consequence.

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @stonetools:

    I have said earlier (and still believe) that the Republicans WILL shut down government some time this year…

    And THEN… when it happens, they will find ways to blame President Obama for the shutdown.

    SEE !!! He wouldn’t negotiate ! We had no choice ! It’s HIS fault !

    We have to bomb the village to save it !!!

    Of course, that will play well in the Republican fund raising letters… especially in the Southeast and south central states.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I will take that as a no, the downgrading of the bonds did not affect on the policies of the government and had zero effect on governance. What damage was really done to the government is there was no impact of the functioning of the government?

    What was really shown is how the Republicans have zero impact on policy or governance and will not have any influence in the future. Republicans currently exist to do nothing more than give Democrats someone to blame for their own failures.

  19. Tony W says:

    Jonathan Bernstein over at Salon has an interesting take on the issue of brinksmanship and governance – he opines that Nixon runs the Republican party now, An excellent read for those interested in some historical context.

  20. Mike in DC says:

    @superdestroyer: The effect is that spending went up because interest rates on US Gov’t bonds increased. When the rating agency reduced our rating, it was saying that US Bonds are a higher risk investment than they once were, and to take that into account, the cost of borrowing money went up.

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Mike in DC:

    Did that higher interest rate lower the amount borrowed or cause the government to cut back on programs to pay the higher interest rates. Since there have been no real changes in policy or programs, the higher interest rates had zero effect in the long run.

  22. You people who want to keep the government printing, spending and borrowing debt and financial bubble machine running are the actual crazies who are destroying our children’s future. A pox on every one of your homes.

  23. C. Clavin says:

    “…And what was the long term effect of the lowering of the bond rating? What policy did the downgrading really effect? What programs have been cut due to the downgrading? Once gain, no effect in the long term…”

    We it did set the economic recovery back…so while it may not have had a long- term affect it is another example of the treasonous behavior of the GOP

  24. David M says:

    @Let’s Be Free:

    You people who want to keep the government printing, spending and borrowing [money]

    And people make fun of the idea that the GOP really doesn’t want the government to exist or be useful.

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mike in DC:

    This is actually backwards. The bond market generally ignored the downgrade, and subsequent to the downgrade increased flight to bonds in the wake of economic uncertainty created demand pressure that actually drove rates DOWN. In some cases net yields went negative.

    The net effect for the government was, therefore, cheaper borrowing, and in certain cases, people paying the government interest in exchange for the privilege of being allowed to submerge themselves in the perceived safety of Treasuries.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    How perfect that this…

    And THEN… when it happens, they will find ways to blame President Obama for the shutdown.

    SEE !!! He wouldn’t negotiate ! We had no choice ! It’s HIS fault !

    We have to bomb the village to save it !!!

    …is immediately followed by this…

    Republicans currently exist to do nothing more than give Democrats someone to blame for their own failures.

  27. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I will take that as a no, the downgrading of the bonds did not affect on the policies of the government and had zero effect on governance. What damage was really done to the government is there was no impact of the functioning of the government?

    The downgrade of American debt showed Americans that Republicans have ZERO interest in responsible governance – I realize that is somewhat different than carting about governing responsibly.