Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell must be getting desperate. After the utter fiasco that was the 2013 government shutdown, no Republican in their right mind (clearly, I’m not talking about the Tea Party) would risk, much less engineer, another one. Yet that is exactly what McConnell is planning on doing if the GOP takes the Senate in November’s elections:
HENDERSON, Ky. — Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.
The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.
In other words, McConnell is planning on running the country by blackmail: Pass our legislative agenda or we’ll shut the country down.
Remember the rending of garments that went on when the Democrats took away the Republican’s ability to endlessly filibuster the president’s judicial appointments? “Tyranny!” they cried. Now? Well, it’s perfectly OK to completely circumvent the minority party and attack the powers of the president because Republicans don’t like what he’s doing with them.
This is not forcing the president to “move to the center” and it’s certainly not, despite what McConnell will claim, a way to force the “dictatorial” president to negotiate. Negotiation would require Republicans to give something in return. History tells us that will never happen. The GOP has lost the ability to compromise on anything unless forced into a corner. Typically by their own actions.
It’s true that McConnell is facing a brutally close election and could well lose to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. This talk of assaulting the presidency and forcing a shutdown could simply be tough talk to appeal to the Republican lunatic base. If so, I’d like to point out how many on the right swore on a stack of Republican Bibles that they didn’t actually want the shutdown. If McConnell’s promise of another fires up the base, perhaps next time, the “liberal” media will stop pretending that “both sides” are to blame? Just kidding! Of course they won’t.
If McConnell DOES carry out his threat, he’d be setting a dangerous precedent that could come back to bite Republicans in the ass in 2016. While 2014 has more Democratic than Republican seats up for grabs, 2016 will be the reverse. Add to that the deep unpopularity of the GOP combined with the backlash of a second shutdown and Republicans could lose the Senate AND the House. If that happens, there would be exactly zero reason for Democrats to put up with another 4 years of GOP filibuster obstruction. They would either end the filibuster or use McConnell’s “arcane budget tactic” to bypass Republicans all together. Republicans would entirely lose their ability to help shape policy at all.
The question becomes: Do Republicans hate Obama enough to risk everything just to sabotage a presidency they’ve already been obstructing since day one? Based on the last six years of unprecedented GOP rage and insanity, I’d say yes.