Karl Rove, the man who is often referred to by the oxymoronic title “Bush’s Brain” is running scared. He is scared of his own political party’s brinkmanship diplomacy and Republican threats to shutdown the government over the funding of Obamacare. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Rove warns the GOP of the dire political consequences they may incur if they proceed with their ill-considered plan to shut down the government. Rejecting comparisons to the 1995 shutdown when the Newt Gingrich Congress battled over the budget with Bill Clinton, Rove argues…
A shutdown now would have much worse fallout than the one in 1995. Back then, seven of the government’s 13 appropriations bills had been signed into law, including the two that funded the military. So most of the government was untouched by the shutdown. Many of the unfunded agencies kept operating at a reduced level for the shutdown’s three weeks by using funds from past fiscal years.
But this time, no appropriations bills have been signed into law, so no discretionary spending is in place for any part of the federal government. Washington won’t be able to pay military families or any other federal employee. While conscientious FBI and Border Patrol agents, prison guards, air-traffic controllers and other federal employees may keep showing up for work, they won’t get paychecks, just IOUs.
The only agencies allowed to operate with unsalaried employees will be those that meet one or more of the following legal tests: They must be responding to “imminent” emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property, be funded by mandatory spending (such as Social Security), have funds from prior fiscal years that have already been obligated, or rely on the constitutional power of the president. Figuring out which agencies meet these tests will be tough, but much of the federal government will lack legal authority to function.
He continues by suggesting…
But any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.
The defunding strategy doesn’t. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it.
Whatever else can be said about Karl Rove, his warning in this case should be heeded by the GOP congressional leaders. Rove’s own GPS polling found that in the debate between Obama and the Republicans over shutting down the government to defund Obamacare, the public overwhelmingly sides with Obama. Of course, what Mr. Rove fails to realize is that Republicans in Congress no longer listen to him or any other Republican who tries to inject even the slightest modicum of common sense back into the political discourse of the party.
Republicans in the House and their enablers in the Senate like Ted Cruz and David Vitter, have long since lost any interest in governing. For them, Congress has merely become a vehicle through which they can relentlessly attack the President and throw their tea-fueled temper tantrums on a daily basis. The Republican House has become a completely dysfunctional circus sideshow that has no connection to legislative purpose anymore. The GOP wing of the Senate is spiraling in the same direction lead by grandstanding egomaniacs like Ted Cruz who has all but supplanted Mitch McConnell as the de-facto leader of the conservatives in the Senate. This would be almost comical if it did not affect so many lives that depend upon government funding for their paychecks or continuation of vital programs.
Karl Rove is right about one thing, and perhaps one thing only. The Republican Party’s hell-bent obsession with shutting down the government will not end well for them if they succeed. Shutting down the government may bolster their Tea Party credentials with the GOP base back home, but it will not play well with Independents. Should a government shutdown come to pass, it will be a hollow victory for the GOP Congress for it will seal their fate in 2014, and end their reign in the House. Again, if it were not for all the lives adversely affected by a government shutdown, this act of political suicide might be a welcome exercise in legislative failure, since it could signal an end to A Republican controlled House come 2014.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.