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September 29, 2023 08:10 AM MDT

As Shutdown Looms, Republicans Embark on New Stupid Mission

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: It’s almost like Republicans are trying to PROVE that they’re shutting down the government for no reason:




House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is haunted by the ghost of former Speaker John Boehner (who is still alive, far as we know)

The federal government will officially shutdown at Midnight tomorrow (think Saturday night), as hard-right House Republicans drawed themselves another dumb line in the sand today on a fight they’re never going to win.

An attempt today to pass a truly ridiculous “stopgap funding bill” failed with 21 Republicans voting ‘NO’ anyway. As The Washington Post explains, a 30-day stopgap funding bill that would have cut most domestic programs by 30 percent was not able to make it out of the House.

No kidding? A proposal to SLICE MOST DOMESTIC PROGRAMS BY 30 PERCENT couldn’t get any traction? Weird.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”50%”]“Typically, funding showdowns in divided government between Congress and the White House have featured pitched battles over specific policies…but budget experts and historians say the current impasse stands out for its lack of a clear policy disagreement.”

— The Washington Post (9/29/23)[/mantra-pullquote]

As Jeff Stein writes for The Washington Post in a separate story, the U.S. is about to face massive economic disruptions — with hundreds of thousands of Americans foregoing paychecks — for no real reason that anyone can articulate:

In 1995 and 1996, the federal government shut down as House Republicans and the Clinton administration clashed over spending cuts. In 2013, the government shut down because of a partisan disagreement over President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In 2018, Democrats bucked President Donald Trump’s demands to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, leading to the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

And now?

“We are truly heading for the first-ever shutdown about nothing,” said Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank. [Pols emphasis] Strain has started referring to the current GOP House-led impasse as “the ‘Seinfeld’ shutdown,” a reference to the popular sitcom widely known as “a show about nothing.” “The weirdest thing about it is that the Republicans don’t have any demands. What do they want? What is it that they’re going to shut the government down for? We simply don’t know.”

Via The New York Times (9/29/23)

If you don’t believe that this is about nothing specific, just go back and watch Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) yelling about reducing the salaries of a few random Biden Administration officials.

While we don’t understand the logic, we do know the reason for this shutdown, sort of: House “Freedom Caucus” adherents are mad that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated a budget deal in May — in order to prevent a catastrophic government default — because they claim that McCarthy promised them deeper budget cuts when he was trying to corral enough votes to become Speaker back in January. If McCarthy doesn’t do what the hardliners want now, they’re threatening to push a “motion to vacate the chair” — essentially hold a new vote to replace McCarthy as Speaker.

It sounds like McCarthy hasn’t figured out what to do next, which is a pretty good summation of his entire month in general. The Senate is considering a separate bill to keep the government open, but McCarthy has already promised to reject that proposal, because supporting it would guarantee a challenge to his Speakership. At the same time, if McCarthy can’t prevent the government from shutting down, it’s a clear sign that he may not have the leadership chops to continue wielding the gavel.

And this brings us to our next stop on the crazy train: The attempted removal of McCarthy as Speaker. As The Washington Post reported on Thursday:

A contingent of far-right House Republicans is plotting an attempt to remove Kevin McCarthy as House speaker as early as next week, a move that would throw the chamber into further disarray in the middle of a potential government shutdown, according to four people familiar with the effort who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

Some members of the far-right faction of the party are coalescing around nominating a member of McCarthy’s leadership team, Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.), to be the next speaker if they can successfully oust McCarthy, according to those people. The members think Emmer is more attuned to their concerns and will better deliver conservative results.

Former House Speaker John Boehner couldn’t talk some sense into his hardliners, either.

Now, there is a VERY obvious problem with this move by hardliners in the GOP caucus. If they oust McCarthy under the narrative that he is an ineffective leader, then it places enormous pressure on the next House Speaker — and the House “Freedom Caucus” — to pass a deal to open up the government ASAP.

If a new Speaker can’t prove to be any more effective than the old Speaker, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that it was the hardliners and the House “Freedom Caucus” that have been the problem all along. These nitwits could always call a new motion to vacate the chair and hold another election for a House Speaker, but at that point they will lose whatever credibility remains and all but guarantee that Democrats will re-take the House majority in 2024.

This will be the first full government shutdown since 2013, when House Republicans played a bad hand and ended up losing their shirts once all the chips had been played. The similarities to 2023 are remarkable. A continuation of that 2013 fight took place in February 2014 over raising the debt ceiling, and it resulted in then-House Speaker John Boehner basically giving up trying to deal with his own hardliners. Boehner made a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, which he knew would seal his fate with the rest of his nutball caucus. Boehner would eventually resign as House Speaker in 2015; the man who would have succeeded him, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, had already suffered an upset loss in a 2014 Republican Primary Election in large part because of his role in the right-wing budget dance.

This shutdown will likely last as long as Republicans can stomach the pain of being blamed for what in 2013 cost the United States at least $24 billion. And what did Republicans get out of that 16-day shutdown? Some minor tweaks to Obamacare. That’s it.

What will hardline Republicans get out of this shutdown when all is said and done? Very little, if history is any guide. And if they start working on trying to oust McCarthy as Speaker at the same time, that combination of ridiculousness will almost certainly lead to electoral catastrophe for Republicans in 2024.


14 thoughts on “As Shutdown Looms, Republicans Embark on New Stupid Mission

  1. If the Republican "hardliners" continue driving this country to the ground then I know what goes in our country's obituary:

    America was not America enough for America

    The only way America continue to work is if Republicans stop catering to their worst, loudest members and actually work with the rest of us in good faith.

  2. It’s all about Power. The MAGA Republicans WANT the shutdown to prove they can pull Boehner’s (umm, Kevin’s) puppet strings.

    Self-identified MAGA Republicans are just trying to redo the Jan 6 insurrection, and sabotage the governement. Non-MAGA Republicans could choose to vote with the Democrats if they wanted to, but even non-MAGA Republicans are actually supporters of the MAGA movement.

    Kevin McCarthy will try anything to keep the government open except passing the bipartisan legislation that has already been negotiated and that has overwhelming support in the Senate. (h/t Ian Milhiser)

    1. 18 "moderate" Republicans serve in districts Biden carried in 2020. They are watching MAGA burn down their political careers… and, for what?

      Why are they siding with the extremists instead of with America? 

      I'm guessing they are afraid of Donald Trump and a MAGA primary. They'll try to change after primary season. That's a loooooonnngg government shutdown.

    1. Chickenheed, don't you start doing that, too. MAGAts use "Democrat" as in "Democrat Party" as a snotty insult. I just think it makes them sound semi-literate. You don't want to sound semi-literate, do you?

  3. The neediest among us will be most impacted by the shut down. People receiving WIC food, food stamps, (snap) , school lunch programs, Head Start, Federally funded child care programs will suddenly find on Monday that there is no money for food or child care. It sucks to be a child in poverty.

    Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security benefits will likely not be affected unless the shut down continues for over three months. But forget it if you need to talk with an agency human being about a problem.

    The same applies to farmers needing to sign up for insurance and subsidy payments. Nobody home at the agency = no help available.

    Federal employees and active military will also be the worst hit. Many agencies are expected to require employees to work with no pay. And forget “Support our troops”. The VA won’t be affected right away, but active duty military and their families will be struggling to make it.

    So McCarthy and the tiny minority of extremist Republicans shutting down the government probably feel they have little to lose by this pointless and cruel posturing. Poor people don’t vote for Republicans or they don’t vote, period. Kids can’t vote. And federal employees mostly don’t vote for Republicans.

    It’s a Ayn Rand fantasy- A pure capitalist dreamworld in which the most selfish and self-centered make the rules that everyone else has to live by.

    The articles cited are Washington post “share“ articles, so there is no paywall.

    1. "The same applies to farmers needing to sign up for insurance and subsidy payments. Nobody home at the agency = no help available." 

      You mean all those fine people who live in places like Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas?  Those fine people who hate big government and want to see it drown in the bathtub?

      Cry me a river. 

      1. Somehow I don't see the large corporate farms of today; and the massively expanded family run farms; as being among the "neediest." Farmers got a big windfall from Trump when he bailed them out after his tariffs on agricultural imports.

    2. "Poor people don’t vote for Republicans or they don’t vote, period."

      That's true, they don't BUT unaffiliated social security recipients in swing districts – especially the 18 districts represented by members of MyKevin's crackpot conference and which went for Biden in 2020 – do vote and do go back and forth.

      I'm guessing if the shutdown goes on long enough, those voters will go against MyKevin's candidates in 2024. Bye, bye, Don Bacon, Mike Lawler, David Valadao, Mike Garcia, Young Kim, and the other unlucky 13.

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