Lance the Boil: Government Shutdown

Sep27

By John Feehery

Government Shutdown

Maybe we need a government shutdown, just to get the attention of normal Americans.

Right now, the debate has been captured by the far-right.  They are flooding the phone lines, cheering on Ted Cruz, heckling any Republican who questions his intellectual superiority, urging the leadership to commit political suicide in a quixotic attempt to nullify the President’s number one legislative accomplishment (if you can call it that).

The problem for the Republican leadership is that a significant number of their members listen only to these radical voices, and they have the votes to kill forward movement on the continuing resolution unless it explicitly defunds Obamacare.

The Democrats see no reason to move towards the Republican position.

They have public opinion on their side on most questions, except for one.

The public doesn’t want the government to shut down.  It doesn’t want Obamacare to be defunded (despite the fact that the law is unpopular).  It doesn’t want America to default on its debts.

Most Americans don’t like the Tea Party.  It has an approval rating of 22%, far below the President, the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.

But the public doesn’t like the President’s position on the debt limit either.  They think he should negotiate a package that includes spending cuts if he wants to increase the credit card limit.

That makes plenty of sense.

Most Americans want the government to do its job, to keep the government open, to pay our debts, to cut spending and to fix Obamacare.

But most Americans don’t bother to tell their local members of Congress that is what they want.  Most Americans go to work and don’t spend a lot of time telling the Congress to do the job it was spent to Washington to do.

But their silence makes the loudest voices even louder and skews the debate towards radical views.

And it is radical to demand that the President repeal his signature legislative priority or promise that either the government will shut down or we will default on our debts.   It is a radical proposition, especially if is carried out.

Maybe it’s time to test that proposition, to lance the boil and to shut down the government for a while.

It won’t be good politically for Republicans in the short term, but it also won’t be good for the President’s approval ratings, which are already on a downward track.

A shutdown might get the rest of public engaged in the debate about the future of the country.

It might get the Republicans to get their act together and unify around the Speaker.   It might finally convince the President that he has no choice but to negotiate over the debt limit.

And it might shake all of irresponsibility that currently grips Washington’s policy makers, out of the system.

And as the government shuts down, it might become clear that Obamacare is not quite ready for prime time and that the President’s people might come to Congress asking that they delay the entire law for six months to a year.

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