Shutdown: A fight with no room for compromise

By Bill Schneider
October 2, 2013

To end the government shutdown, all Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) needs to do is let the House of Representatives vote on a budget. It would pass within 30 minutes. Virtually all 200 House Democrats would vote to keep the government open, as would as many as 50 Republicans. An easy majority.

But no. Boehner and other Republican leaders refuse to do that because they are in thrall to Tea Party conservatives. Hard-line conservatives number about 50 out of 232 House Republicans. But those conservatives are threatening to lead an insurrection against party leaders if they dare to allow a vote. Other Republican members are terrified that they will face a tough primary challenge from the right if they don’t go along with the Tea Party.

So what have we got? Minority government.

It’s outrageous when you think about it. Hard-line conservatives are blocking majority rule so they can get their way. They insist they are taking a stand on principle. Why? “Because we’re right, simply because we’re right,” one of them told the New York Times.

What principle? The principle that the Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional expansion of government power and that President Barack Obama is not a legitimate president.

But didn’t the Supreme Court rule back in June that Obamacare is constitutional? It did. A Tea Party activist protested at the time, “Just because the Supreme Court says something is constitutional doesn’t mean it is.”

And didn’t the voters re-elect Obama last year? They did. But hard-line conservatives insist that’s only because Republicans put up a candidate who wasn’t a true conservative.

Conservatives have a talent for denying facts. “The American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Meet the Press, “They understand it’s not working.”

Do they? Well, the public has always been skeptical of the Affordable Care Act. Americans polled last week by Quinnipiac University were split over the new healthcare law — 45 percent support it and 47 percent oppose it.

But do they favor Congress cutting off funding for the law? No, by 58 percent to 34 percent. Do they favor shutting down major activities of the federal government as a way to stop the healthcare law? No, 72 percent to 22 percent. As for the law “not working,” people just started signing up on Monday. More than a million Americans visited the Obamacare website,, before 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. Sure, there were glitches. The site was overloaded.

There is no way Republicans can win this fight. We’re already seeing polls that show Democrats building a lead over Republicans when voters are asked how they will vote for Congress. The Quinnipiac poll shows a 9-point Democratic lead — the biggest margin so far.

That has a lot of congressional Republicans freaking out. They’re rushing to try to restore spending on popular programs like veterans’ benefits and national parks. But Obama and congressional Democrats are holding fast. They know they’ve got the leverage.

Don’t Republicans remember what happened the last time they shut down the government in 1996? President Bill Clinton coasted to re-election.

Conservatives argue that what hurt Republicans in 1996 wasn’t the shutdown. It was the “surrender.” They believe they lost because they gave in too quickly instead of keeping the government closed.

What exactly do Republicans think they can accomplish with this maneuver? Some are using terms like “the Alamo” and “Custer’s Last Stand” — glorious defeats, fighting for a noble cause. Thank goodness nobody has mentioned the Confederacy as the great Lost Cause.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) reminded her Senate colleagues that the issue here is the federal budget. It’s a debate over money, she said, “not about political or ideological viewpoints.”

Actually, that’s exactly what Republicans insist it is about. “This is a matter of core principle,” one Republican congressman said.

A budget is supposed to be a fight over interests. Interests can be negotiated and compromised.

But you can’t make deals if this is a fight over values, which is what conservatives claim it is. Values are about right and wrong. There’s no room for compromise.

Conservatives are demanding that Obama agree to put off the individual mandate to purchase health insurance for one year. Why is that such a big deal? The answer is: Because it would kill the healthcare program. If we delay the mandate, insurance companies will still have to cover people with preexisting conditions. Older and sicker people, desperate for insurance, would sign up. As a result, insurance premiums would skyrocket. The country would face a wave of protests.

Some conservatives want to delay the whole Obamacare program for a year. They have an ulterior motive. They expect Republicans to win control of the Senate in the midterm elections next year and then take the White House in 2016. That would put them in a position to kill off Obamacare forever — as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney promised to do if he had won the election. It will be much harder to kill Obamacare if it is already in place.

Meanwhile, mainstream Republicans are getting increasingly concerned about facing a backlash at the polls next year. They have good reason to worry. Far from rallying to the anti-Obamacare cause, voters are expressing anger and disgust with Congress.

Contempt of Congress happens to be a crime. If that’s the case, millions of Americans may be facing arrest any minute now. Because contempt of Congress is exactly what they are expressing.


PHOTO (Top): House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) speaks to the media at 1:00 am, immediately after the House of Representatives voted to send their funding bill with delays to Obamacare into a conference with the Senate, prompting a shutdown of portions of the government in Washington, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

PHOTO (Insert): Senator Ted Cruz talks to reporters after the Senate passed a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, sending the issue back to the House of Representatives, at the Capitol in Washington, September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


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The insurance scam and illusion, ranks people into tiers. You can have what they think you are entitled to. A physician treating their patient has sovereign domain over health care. The scammers need to get the he!! out of the way of health. The insurance company employee with a high school education or GED gets to sit in between that sacred relationship and argue and tell the doctor what to do! Are you kidding me? You really think this is appropriate? Plato and Socrates PLEASE HELP.

Posted by 2Borknot2B | Report as abusive

In the casino racket, they have departments. Every good business owner is aware that they need to examine each department separately for efficiency and quality control. That is how you get the most profit from your investment. We The People want to look at the peoples business that is our HOME LAND called AMERICA. We want our finances and business models and systems examined for quality control, so we don’t get fleeced further into G-zero. We like American sovereignty, that was a gift from GOD to US. We need to tend to our garden and our soil or the pests, weeds and rouge chickens (multi-national corporations aka plantation owners) will destroy it. Business and Farming 101.

Posted by 2Borknot2B | Report as abusive

If the screeching Progressives writing for Rooters, and those commenting here, want to turn this political controversy into a religious war then there is no telling were this fight stops. As much blood as you have dripping from your mouths already one would think you’d would be a least briefly reflective in the matter.

You clowns actually think you can just completely dismiss the honest expression of political opinion by 30-40% or more of the nations population with the snap of your fingers and an edict from the White House?

Foolish. Stupid, even. And not gonna happen. Home boyz.

You morons haven’t figured out the nature of the problem, and until you do this will continue to escalate. This isn’t about health insurance or debt ceilings or any of that. This is about disenfranchisement. This is about marginalization. This is about the unlawful usurpation of power.

This is about the kind of disenfranchisement and marginalization and usurpation that is guaranteed NOT to be allowed in this country by virtue of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Proceed now, please with your inanities and stupidity, please. The argument will continue until Mr. Obama and the Progressive leadership cease and desist from their scorched earth tactics.

Posted by HamsterHerder | Report as abusive