The Shutdown Message

 

shutterstock_147022475Nobody really likes government shutdowns, including me. But sometimes you have to make a point. Send a message. Show voters what you really believe. Take a stand.

With John Boehner set to resign at the end of October, many believe the outgoing speaker can team up with House Democrats to avoid a government shutdown on October 1. Ace Washington watcher Dan Clifton of Wall Street firm Strategis reports, “The risk of a government shutdown next week has been eliminated.” And he expects Congress to pass a short-term continuing resolution that will fund government appropriations through December 11.

That would be a clean bill that does not defund Planned Parenthood. More Democrats than Republicans would support it. And Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stands ready to pass a similar clean resolution.

But will this non-disruptive approach really work? Nancy Pelosi wants to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. House Republicans do not. So far the House has not come up with a plan to finance the Highway Trust Fund. And then there’s the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood — because of the vile and depraved videos of the removal of fetal body parts — that weighs heavily on the national conscience. Is defunding really dead?

So a shutdown next week is still possible. Most of the Beltway media will blame Republicans. Democrats will blame Republicans. And GOP pundits will blame Republicans. Political death, they will say.

Really?

Former National Review reporter Andrew Stiles wrote a most interesting government-shutdown piece almost two years ago when Senator Ted Cruz and other Republicans filibustered to stop full funding of Obamacare. Stiles pointed out that the Cruz shutdown was the 18th shutdown since 1976. And he argued that Democrat Tip O’Neill presided over two-thirds of them.

In the late 1970s shutdowns occurred when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. The disagreement was over abortion policy. That caused three shutdowns.

Stiles noted that during the Reagan-O’Neill era, most of the shutdowns were budget focused. Reagan wanted less spending; the Democrats wanted more. They also bickered over funding for missile programs.

The Reagan-O’Neill-era shutdowns were short, and in most of them Reagan prevailed. Meanwhile, the Reagan recovery flourished, the Republicans held the Senate (until 1986), and the Gipper was reelected in a landslide in 1984.

Going back to the Obamacare-related shutdown of 2013, a bit more than a year later the Republicans swept the Senate and gained an even larger majority in the House.

I am not arguing for a constant series of budget shutdowns. And I will always oppose any expiration of the U.S. Treasury debt ceiling. That would be a harmful global economic event. No good. But it is worth remembering that there are no catastrophic political or economic consequences attached to these shutdowns.

Surely, shutdowns are a cumbersome way to make a point. But the GOP base is clamoring for a more aggressive Republican Congress. The grassroots are angry and frustrated that the Republican House and Senate have not passed a series of large-scale bills.

There’s been no repeal and rewrite of Obamacare. There’s been no corporate tax reform, at a minimum, or overall personal tax reform. There’s been no energy bill — not just to build the XL pipeline, but to end limits on oil and gas exports and drilling on federal lands.

Immigration reform is a hot topic on the presidential-debate scene. But there’s been nothing on this from Congress. And the huge issue is the Iran nuclear deal, which in addition to being unverifiable would give Iran $150 billion to kill more American soldiers and advance its domination of the Middle East. But the congressional GOP response has been weak and confusing.

And the fact that legislative hurdles — such as the filibuster, 60-vote rule in the Senate — prevents these reforms is unsatisfying to the GOP base.

Of course, the arrogant and ideologically stubborn President Obama would veto all these reforms if they ever got to his desk. But if I read the grassroots properly, they know this and believe these vetoes would set the stage for a big Republican victory in 2016.

Of course, a key point here is that you can’t govern from Congress alone. You need the White House. Expectations from last November’s sweep were always too high.

But perhaps Republican leadership in both Houses might think of this: There are too many deals and not enough principles, beliefs, and clear messaging.

The GOP ultimately will nominate a presidential candidate who will hopefully get the right message out. But in the meantime, as House Republicans choose a new top team and Majority Leader McConnell continues his term in the Senate, the congressional GOP leadership should think harder about principled messaging and less about accommodation.

If that requires a short-run shutdown, so be it.

 

There are 26 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    What I have never understood is the complicity of the Republicans and conservative pundits (hand wringers) to promote the idea that a shutdown CANNOT be blamed on the person who shuts it down. Instead, it’s always the Republicans’ fault:

    • Omnibus bill without Planned Parenthood funding
    • Dem filibuster or vetoed by Obama
    • “Shutdown” date occurs
    • Obama stops park services
    • Congress puts through a single bill just for the park services funding
    • Dems filibuster or Obama veto
    • Stick to the story and attack the media for ANY mis-reporting
    • Have a press conference that the media mis-reporting is the story and that blame is clear and the lies need to stop.

    During Reagan’s years, he didn’t have control of congress and the omnibus bills were there because he couldn’t have any say on that. The lament was always that we needed control of the congress to fix that single thing. Now the Republicans are in control and can do funding bills of any size. But, now we have a new excuse. We have to fight the media and the media only if they report this as a shutdown caused by the Republicans.

    • #1
  2. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    Larry Koler.

    Exactly.  Played intelligently Cruz was offering some real leverage, it wouldn’t have killed Obamacare,  but they’d have gotten something and no shut down.  It’s like getting off the ferry in Hong Kong and successfully negotiating the price down by half and your wife/husband comes up and says, oh that’s a good price stop trying to cheat the man.  Obama is the person who would have and will shut it down.  Make that the point always everywhere and it will stick, putting pressure on the White House not to shut the government down.  Republicans preemptively capitulate because the media will try to blame them.  They don’t have to be passive victims, it’s actually possible influence opinion, shape public perceptions, it’s called leadership.  They have the advantage of telling the truth.   The others have the disadvantage of having to always lie.  Does this not mean anything?

    • #2
  3. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I agree with you, Larry.  When the GOP leadership publicly announces that there won’t be a shutdown, they are telling the other side that they hold all the cards.  You wouldn’t go to a car lot and tell the salesperson that you positively must buy a certain car, now let’s negotiate the price.  You’ve already told him you won’t walk away no matter how bad the deal is, so why would he drop the price even one buck?

    • #3
  4. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    The most important thing is that we have to identify to the media itself and to all outlets that it is primarily because of the media that the Republicans are blamed. Blaming the Dems or Obama in a press conference WILL NOT work. They expect that and they are ready for it. The Dems know the media will defend them — but nobody points this out yet it is implicit in all this.

    Our side must point out that it is the media to blame for the misunderstanding (and for so many others). We should never have to explain or apologize for putting the government back into regular order as Larry Arnn never tires of saying. This present situation is not regular order and we have every right to expect our federal government to run as it is designed to run.

    • #4
  5. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Frank Soto and Jamie Lockett, please call your office.

    • #5
  6. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Agree with all except the debt ceiling comment.

    We are confiscating $3T+ per annum. We can get by without borrowing.

    • #6
  7. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    • #7
  8. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    Randy Weivoda:I agree with you, Larry. When the GOP leadership publicly announces that there won’t be a shutdown, they are telling the other side that they hold all the cards. You wouldn’t go to a car lot and tell the salesperson that you positively must buy a certain car, now let’s negotiate the price. You’ve already told him you won’t walk away no matter how bad the deal is, so why would he drop the price even one buck?

    Or, like a military leader who announces months in advance the date he will pull out the troops .  Can you imagine anyone doing that?

    • #8
  9. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    BrentB67:One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    Well, best we find that out, huh?

    • #9
  10. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    BrentB67:One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    You’re not sure that is the case?  {:-o}

    It should be painfully obvious that we have but one party in Washington, the Incumbency Party.  Politicians—with rare exceptions, which only prove the rule—care about one thing: staying in power.  Conservative ideological issues only offer a GOP politician—again, with rare exceptions—a downside.  This is because the Left controls the high ground in the culture war (campuses, media, entertainment).

    If you need evidence, simply look at the on-the-record caterwauling about conservatives from House GOP members in the wake of Boehner’s demise.  The disdain for conservatives among the GOP’s incumbents is not hidden or obscure.  If you are conservative and think the GOP is your home, either the first statement is untrue or you are utterly deluded and incapable of seeing the obvious.

    • #10
  11. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Bob Thompson:

    BrentB67:One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    Well, best we find that out, huh?

    We don’t know that already?

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    BrentB67:

    Bob Thompson:

    BrentB67:One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    Well, best we find that out, huh?

    We don’t know that already?

    Yes, but it helps if we can get a vote so we have some precision. This has a lot to do with why the leadership avoids these votes.

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Bob Thompson:

    BrentB67:

    Bob Thompson:

    BrentB67:One problem this strategy runs up against is the assumption that a majority of Congressional republicans want to de-fund P.P., eliminate Ex-Im, or other limited government issues. I am not sure that is the case.

    Well, best we find that out, huh?

    We don’t know that already?

    Yes, but it helps if we can get a vote so we have some precision. This has a lot to do with why the leadership avoids these votes.

    You;re both right of course.  it’s one thing to know it’s a majority.  it;s another to have specific targets to pick off.  And the effect on those not taken off will outweigh any damage done by smothering a couple of “friendlies”.

    “Sometimes, you have to kill a chicken in front of the monkeys”.

    • #13
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Larry Kudlow, great to hear this coming from you.  Huzzah!

    In addition to the article you reference, which I will go read, folks would do well to consider Andrew C. McCarthy’s blistering defense of Cruz and take-down of the default Eeyore position.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361655/art-impossible-andrew-c-mccarthy

    So, were we out of better options? I think so. To my mind, if the defund plan was delusional, the GOP establishment’s “repeal Obamacare by winning elections” alternative is delusional squared. Inertia is a powerful non-motivator. It is always extremely tempting to avoid the hard thing that must be done now by rationalizing that we’ll have both the capability and the stomach to do hard things at some indeterminate future time. That is the main appeal of the GOP-establishment strategy: It is outlandish, but unlike defund/delay, it is hard to disprove in the present because its impossible assumptions are conveniently imagined to occur several years from now, in a brighter and shinier future.Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361655/art-impossible-andrew-c-mccarthy

    • #14
  15. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-25/let-s-see-what-republicans-learn-from-losing-boehner

    • #15
  16. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Jamie Lockett:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-25/let-s-see-what-republicans-learn-from-losing-boehner

    Ms McCardle used the entire article to slam those obstinate conservative Republicans for not being willing to negotiate/compromise. The Democrats were not mentioned even once. Compromise to some means ever expanding government and, of course, debt. That is what it meant to John Boehner. It reminds me of the situation in Israel. Always there is talk of Israel compromising, yet never a mention of the basic tenet of their opposition…the total destruction of Israel and the demise of its Jewish population. How does one compromise with that position? Likewise, how does one compromise with the inevitable collapse of our country based upon suffocating debt?

    • #16
  17. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    cdor: Ms McCardle used the entire article to slam those obstinate conservative Republicans for not being willing to negotiate/compromise. The Democrats were not mentioned even once. Compromise to some means ever expanding government and, of course, debt. That is what it meant to John Boehner. It reminds me of the situation in Israel. Always there is talk of Israel compromising, yet never a mention of the basic tenet of their opposition…the total destruction of Israel and the demise of its Jewish population. How does one compromise with that position? Likewise, how does one compromise with the inevitable collapse of our country based upon suffocating debt?

    Pretty sure you didn’t understand the point of the article. In the case of Israel the desires of those opposed to the jewish state would be clearly outside the zone of possible agreement and the best alternative to negotiated agreement – in other-words it is the opposition who are too extreme for any actual agreement to take place (as evidence see the failed Camp David Treaty where Arafat turned down a treaty that gave him 99% of what he asked for).

    As the article states the problem is neither the Republicans or the Democrats – the problem is the 60-70% of the electorate that don’t share conservative beliefs. They make what we want outside the zone of possible agreement.

    • #17
  18. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    cdor:

    Jamie Lockett:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-25/let-s-see-what-republicans-learn-from-losing-boehner

    Ms McCardle used the entire article to slam those obstinate conservative Republicans for not being willing to negotiate/compromise. The Democrats were not mentioned even once. Compromise to some means ever expanding government and, of course, debt. That is what it meant to John Boehner.

    To which it must be added that a huge number (the majority, apparently) of GOP officeholders think exactly like McArdle.  She seems not have noticed, BTW, that GOP leaders like McConnell and Boehner failed in their negotiation tactics, not in their proper understanding of ZOPA and BATNA.  They did what Obama does for national security: let me tell you, my opponent, what I’m not going to do before we even get started, that way you can be assured of getting whatever you want.  McConnell and Boehner ruled out ever allowing a ‘shut down’,  which of course told Obama that all he had to do was say ‘I’ll veto’ and his two Hill lap dogs would scurry off to get their GOP puppies all lined up for losing.

    Since she likes the Greece example so much, McArdle might have noticed that what sunk this once proud nation state is not the negotiating position of one flash-in-a-pan Prime Minister. It was decades of debt accumulation feeding unsustainable expectations of what the government could do for people addicted to never paying their own way.

    • #18
  19. JavaMan Member
    JavaMan
    @JavaMan

    I’m not a fan of shutdowns but I think that the message of “There will be NO shutdowns” is roughly the domestic equivalent of announcing that we will be withdrawing all ground forces from Iraq/Afghanistan by (insert date here).

    • #19
  20. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Jamie Lockett:

    cdor: Ms McCardle used the entire article to slam those obstinate conservative Republicans for not being willing to negotiate/compromise.

    Pretty sure you didn’t understand the point of the article.

    As the article states the problem is neither the Republicans or the Democrats – the problem is the 60-70% of the electorate that don’t share conservative beliefs. They make what we want outside the zone of possible agreement.

    It’s not the case that 60-70% of voters think funding the processing of babies for parts is a proper function of their federal government. Or that unsecured borders, the willful non-enforcement of immigration laws, and birthright citizenship are sound federal policies. Or that doubling the national debt–twice!–in 15 years is a sustainable path forward. Or that Obamacare will let us keep our doctors, save money, and solve the problem of the uninsured.

    If you’ve got evidence that 60-70% of voters are ‘getting what they want’ from Washington, please share.

    • #20
  21. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Jamie Lockett:http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-09-25/let-s-see-what-republicans-learn-from-losing-boehner

    Jamie, I’ve read and debated you enough to say with confidence that you are much smarter and more thoughtful than to reference/quote the ultimate internet masterclickbaiter.

    The only thing I’ve learned from reading her is that she is a cyber ninja at sticking her finger in the wind and figuring out exactly what it takes to blow up a comment thread to 1,000+.

    • #21
  22. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    This article added a very necessary perspective to the shutdown debate.  Thank you, Mr. Kudlow.

    • #22
  23. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    BrentB67: Jamie, I’ve read and debated you enough to say with confidence that you are much smarter and more thoughtful than to reference/quote the ultimate internet masterclickbaiter. The only thing I’ve learned from reading her is that she is a cyber ninja at sticking her finger in the wind and figuring out exactly what it takes to blow up a comment thread to 1,000+.

    We have very different assessments of the worth of Ms McArdel.

    • #23
  24. Alcuinus Member
    Alcuinus
    @
    • #24
  25. Alcuinus Member
    Alcuinus
    @

    Agree 100%, I don’t understand the weakness of this congress. They surrender preemptively every time. Stand for something! Make Obama veto bills that people want over and over and make Dems defend those vetos!

    • #25
  26. HVTs Inactive
    HVTs
    @HVTs

    Alcuinus: I don’t understand the weakness of this congress. They surrender preemptively every time. Stand for something!

    You don’t understand because you think strong convictions—which motivate your political activity—are key to everyone’s political activity. In truth, convictions are a hindrance to people who must get reelected or lose their job every two to six years.

    Strong convictions get in the way of getting reelected. It’s different for Democrats because they won the culture war and now command the heights of culture (campuses, media, and entertainment).  That’s why this will never turn around unless and until we win the culture war.

    With rare exceptions there’s no political incentive for incumbent GOP politicians to fight the culture war or stand firmly for anything the Left’s culture warriors oppose.  As long as political office can become endless—in other words, lacking term limits—politicians will desire that it be endless.  In that circumstance, the incentives laid down by the larger culture are what govern political behavior.

    That’s why going-along, getting-along is what you see from the GOP on Capitol Hill.  What the GOP’s ‘lifers’ are telling you is that only when ALL political risk is removed (GOP control of Congress and White House) will they even think about things like Planned Parenthood. (Even then they don’t do it, again because the Left pummels them on the culture front and that threatens their ability to raise money and get reelected.)

    • #26

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.