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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

We’re about eight weeks from a potential government shutdown and either Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mike Lee (R-UT) are lying, or House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is delusional.

“No one is advocating a government shutdown,” Cantor told the National Review’s Robert Costa on Friday.

Maybe he’s calling these three prominent Senators “no one” or maybe he hasn’t been paying attention.

“Look, I’m not attacking anyone directly,” Rubio told radio host Mark Levin last week, during his “Forget That Whole Immigration Reform Thing, Man” tour. “All I’m saying is that you cannot say you are against Obamacare if you are willing to vote for a law that funds it. If you’re willing to fund this thing, you can’t possibly say you’re against it.”

Rubio outlined the Tea Party’s dream scenario: The House passes a bill funding the government and defunding Obamacare, which gets sent to the Senate, where it dies and thus — in Rubio’s magical thinking — the Senate gets blamed for the government shutdown.


The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman used a gem from Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech to clarify this kind of logic:

That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

Among the other “no one”s talking about shutting down the government is new neocon darling, U.S. Senate candidate and champion of husbands’ rights Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who basically reiterated Cruz, Rubio and Lee’s plan to use either a government shutdown or the debt limit to defund Obamacare. He then quickly added, “Barack Obama is the only one talking about a shutdown.”

Do Cotton along with Cruz, Lee and Rubio really think that the president would be blamed for a shutdown if House refused to refund Obamacare?

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein doesn’t seem to think so. To him, this campaign is more of a can’t lose insurgency for these “happy warriors” who are hoping to grow (or, in Rubio’s case, restore) their credibility with the Tea Party:

They get the credit with conservatives for being willing to shut down the government to defund Obamacare but it never actually happens, and so they never have to take the blame for the consequences.

Klein’s hopeful interpretation is based on what Republican congressmen have been saying in town halls. House members seem to be on board with Eric Cantor’s stand that shutting down the government is dumb for two reasons. Not only would it not stop Obamacare, it would also be a political disaster, complete with American troops losing their homes because they aren’t getting their paychecks.

“I’m just suggesting that when you get into a fight, politically, you gotta make sure you’re willing to kill the hostage you got,” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) told a constituent at one meeting. “And I am not convinced yet that that’s a hostage we should take headed into this fight.”

Did you catch the key word there? “Yet”?