The shutdown could be seen as a consequence of the deeply embedded divisions in this country as described by Dan Baltz.However this is not a situation where both sides of the divide are equally unreasonable. We certainly never saw a government shutdown when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House. The shutdown is a result of the contempt towards our Constitutional form of self-government on the part of the Tea Party and other portions of the right wing. The New York Times reports on how this is not a consequence of a last minute break-down in communication but something the far right has planned for months:
Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.
Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.
It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.
“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”
Last week the country witnessed the fallout from that strategy: a standoff that has shuttered much of the federal bureaucracy and unsettled the nation.
To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.
With polls showing Americans deeply divided over the law, conservatives believe that the public is behind them. Although the law’s opponents say that shutting down the government was not their objective, the activists anticipated that a shutdown could occur — and worked with members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress who were excited about drawing a red line against a law they despise.
A defunding “tool kit” created in early September included talking points for the question, “What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?” The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: “We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.”
The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation…
It is interesting that the Heritage Foundation is associated with this considering that Obamacare is largely based upon the conservative proposal to HillaryCare which was developed by the Heritage Foundation.
The far right will only succeed if they manage to either blame Democrats for the shutdown or at least con people into thinking their is an equivalency between the parties. While I wouldn’t take polls taken today as reflecting what will occur over a year from now, current surveys from Public Policy Polling has shown hostility towards the Republicans to the degree where a Democratic take over of the House is possible. I discussed this topic further in this post.
The media is also resisting their usual temptation following a false objectivity of placing the middle somewhere between the two parties. Another example of members of the media demolishing the Republican arguments came from Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation while interviewing Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn:
Bob Schieffer, Face the Nation’s host, repeatedly asked Cornyn why, instead of using normal legislative procedures like passing laws, Republicans were refusing to pass a continuing resolution funding the government or raise the debt ceiling absent changes to several parts of President Obama’s signature health care law. Schieffer compared this strategy to saying “I’m going to throw a brick through your window unless you give me $20:”
SCHIEFFER: The law has been passed. Why not keep the government running and then everybody can sit down and decide what they want to do about it.
CORNYN: Well there should be a negotiation, and this government would still be up and running in full if President…if Harry Reid had allowed Democrats to vote to eliminate the Congressional carve-out which treats them favorably under Obamacare and to treat average Americans the same way the President has decided to treat business with regard to Obamacare penalties.
SCHIEFFER: Senator, isn’t there something wrong when you say I won’t fund the government unless i can attach my personal wish list to the legislation every time we vote? I’d love to see the government find a cause, uh, cure for cancer, but I don’t think you can say I’m not going to pass and pass any funds for the rest of the government until [the National Institutes of Health] finds a cure for cancer. I mean, isn’t that just kind of the same thing here?