Back in March, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that “trying to put Obamacare on [a continuing resolution] risks shutting down the government. That’s not what our goal is.”
Well, maybe that wasn’t his goal back then. But after Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) spent the summer telling the Republican base that they could and should defund Obamacare before the health care exchanges opened on October 1, a shutdown became inevitable.
Some argue this shutdown has been a Republican plot since at least March, but this assumes that everyone in the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Bush I, Bush II, Cheney, McCain, Palin and Cruz agrees with the Suicide Caucus in the House of Representatives who are willing to risk anything — even the U.S. economy — to stop the Affordable Care Act.
A relatively small group of extremists has been able to drive the government to its first shutdown in almost two decades. And these Tea Partiers are in revolt “against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality,” according to The Washington Post‘s Michael Gerson.
Other Republicans, however, have a slightly firmer grasp on that reality. Here are five Republicans who are blaming their fellow Republicans for this $300-million-a-day shutdown of the nation’s largest employer.
The Republican nominee for president in 2008 has been one of the most vocal critics of a shutdown, warning his party that the story has become “Republicans are fighting Republicans. That’s not helpful.
“It’s very important that we understand that Americans don’t like government. They don’t like Congress. They don’t like government. But they don’t want it shut down,” John McCain told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “When, in ’95, when we shut down the government last time, we had already passed a number of appropriations bills. So the impact of a shutdown of a government, since we haven’t passed a single appropriations bill, will be more immediate and will be more impactful.”
The irony, of course, is that the movement Ted Cruz capitalized on to build his “Defund Obamacare” effort was sparked in part by the person McCain chose to be his running mate in 2008 — Sarah Palin.
Still, the senator is trying to make his fellow Republicans aware of how unpopular their actions are by tweeting terrible poll numbers for the GOP:
Bloomberg: “Americans by 72% Oppose Shutdown Tied to Health Care Cuts” http://t.co/Hs6dJsgThg
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) October 1, 2013
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com
Who should be blamed for the government shutdown? Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has a very simple answer: “Ted Cruz should be blamed and anybody that follows him.”
The congressman has been ranting against the junior senator from Texas and “40 Ted Cruz Republicans” in the House for most of the week. And he probably won’t stop until the government reopens.
The senior senator from Maine called Cruz’s defunding scheme “a strategy that cannot possibly work.”
In a statement released before the government shutdown on Monday evening, Collins said, “I voted against Obamacare and have repeatedly voted to repeal, reform, and replace it, but I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government…”
Collins, like McCain, is willing to speak against Republican orthodoxy. However, both tend to vote with their party over and over again.
Photo: Remy Steinegger via World Economic Forum
No Republican has been more outspoken in his opposition to the idea of tying defunding Obamacare to a government shutdown than Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who called it “moronic” and compared his colleagues to “lemmings with suicide vests.”
“They have to be more than just a lemming,” he said. “Because jumping to your death is not enough.”
The congressman makes no secret of his disdain for the prevailing “with us or against us” politics, saying, “You have this group saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re with Obamacare. If you’re not with their plan — exactly what they want to do — you’re with Obamacare. It’s getting a little old.”
Nunes’ district has voted Republican consistently since 1980 — but he is from California, where patience for Republican Party intransigence is disappearing faster than the few moderates left in the GOP.
GOP Governors and Gubernatorial Candidates
Chris Christie (R-NJ), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Scott Walker (R-WI) have all argued vaguely against a shutdown and for a compromise… that they wouldn’t actually have to make.
“My approach would be, as the executive, is to call in the leaders of the Congress, the legislature, whatever you’re dealing with and say that we’re not leaving this room until we fix this problem,” Christie said on Monday. “Because I’m the boss, I’m in charge.”
This sounds more like Chris Christie fan fiction than reality — especially as it assumes the opposing party actually respects the president’s authority, which is not the case here — but it shows how Republicans are attempting to distinguish themselves from President Obama and distance themselves from House Republicans.
Perhaps no Republican has more to lose from a shutdown than the GOP nominee for governor in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli. The state’s economy is severely dependent on the federal government, especially the Department of Defense — which is, of course, headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.
So “Cooch,” who recently appeared at an “interesting” Tea Party rally, is forced to thread the needle and criticize “both parties.”
I am very disappointed that President Obama & both parties in Congress proved unable to work together to prevent a shutdown of the govt.
— Ken Cuccinelli (@KenCuccinelli) October 1, 2013
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com