Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Shutdown?

This weekend the United States Treasury will bump up against the “debt ceiling.” This debt ceiling is to the government like the credit card limit is to your dreams of really furnishing your man cave.

When your credit card is maxed out it’s no use going to The Big Screen Store to buy the new 90” TV for the Super Bowl. Your card will be declined shortly after its swiped. For the feds reaching the debt limit means the Chinese will get some temporary relief from Uncle Sam putting the bite on them for another series of loans.

There the similarity ends. You can’t borrow additional money until you either pay down your credit card debt or the postman delivers another credit card application that’s “reserved just for you!” Congress can start borrowing again just as soon as both houses pass a bill that increases the debt limit without any provision for debt payment. For politicians, operators are always standing by.

If the debt limit increase isn’t passed by this weekend the government enters “shutdown” mode and Trump will have to buy a burner phone to get back on Twitter. Or so the Opposition Media would have us believe.

The facts are these shutdowns were non–events until recently. Over the years there have been a number of shutdowns and the republic was none the worse for wear. Normal people went about their normal business, while the political class had a nervous breakdown.

The last time the government ground to a halt in 2013, Obama was in the White House and racial peace reigned throughout the land. Then the sinister Ted Cruz filibustered the debt increase and the feds were without funding for a harrowing 16 days. During that fortnight plus two Mexico annexed a defenseless Texas, the Bundy Gang seized much of the public land in Southern Nevada and rioting middle income taxpayers burned down Obamacare enrollment offices to protest skyrocketing insurance premiums.

You don’t recall that? That’s because it’s Fake News. Nothing much happened. It was so quiet the Obama administration decided to punish taxpayers by closing the Mall, national parks and other facilities that didn’t require closing. The goal was twofold: Generate hysterical shutdown news coverage and mobilize the dependent class to call a politician.

The truth is bumping up against the debt limit doesn’t shut off the money spigot. The feds are collecting tax money every day. Just before the Great Cruz Control Experiment the Washington Post published an interactive page where readers could take the $172.4 billion available even after the shutdown and decide who gets paid and who doesn’t.

I took the money and paid all the essentials: Social Security; T–bill debt service; Medicare; Medicaid; federal salaries and benefits; unemployment insurance; food stamps & TANF; military pay; Veteran’s Affairs and even that seat of Deep State Resistance — the Dept. of Justice.

There was no default. I even had $700 million left over for the odd drone strike or Congressional sexual harassment settlement. That’s why you won’t see that mistake in the Post again. The facts undercut all the shutdown predictions of doom.

Republicans took the blame for the Cruz Control, but suffered no lasting ill effects. In this season’s shutdown follies one would think that even the Slinky–spined Republican leadership in the House and Senate could win a confrontation with Democrats.

The difference between the two sides is stark.

On one hand the GOP is trying to keep the government up and running under the sure hand of legislative ‘mastermind’ and Curator of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. On the other, leftist Democrats are threatening to hold taxpayers hostage by shutting down the government. They believe rewarding illegal alien lawbreakers is more important than serving the citizens that elected them.

RINOs and herd–followers in the Swamp have trouble pointing out this obvious contrast because they can hardly wait to surrender to Democrat demands for a DACA amnesty. It’s just taking longer to negotiate terms than they expected.

The fact Trump won the presidency on a promise to “end DACA,” build the wall and deport illegals has escaped the notice of these serial appeasers. What citizens believe is only important until the polls close.

In all the OpMedia buildup to the potential shutdown, I have yet to read of any Democrats fearing they will be blamed for the shutdown. Like General Grant on the second day of a battle, they would have to more pretty fast to get ahead of the GOP jellyfish caucus who is already trying on their hair shirts.

Republican ‘leaders’ and their enablers are always willing to resort to preemptive surrender before the battle is joined. To win one must fight and their heart just isn’t in it. They always have an exit strategy for everything but leaving office.

House Republicans Have More Than Two Options

fiscal-cliff-boehner

There were a few anxious moments in the White House last night and early Thursday morning. For a brief moment it looked liked John Boehner’s re–election as Speaker might be in trouble. This would have been a disaster for the Obama administration — equivalent to the French hiring Gen. George S. Patton as their commander–in–chief in the fall of 1938.

It’s quite possible that Boehner is the favorite Republican of Oval Office denizens. He’s never won a showdown with Obama. He huffs and he puffs and he blows his own House down. Cong. Boehner is the Ambrose Burnside of GOP strategists. He’s always a pontoon or two short of victory.

Which is why his three–vote margin was uncomfortably close for the Obama administration.

Speaker Boehner — and admittedly much of the Republican brain trust both in and out of elective office — is trapped in a binary, tactical battle with the White House. A battle he manages to re–fight and re–lose on a regular basis. The fiscal cliff confrontation was simply not a choice between passing Obama’s tax and spending increases or plunging headlong off the cliff.

A truly strategic thinker would have seen there was a third option. An option that was difficult in the short run, but promised a lasting victory in the long run.

I outlined that strategy here in mid–December. I contend that Obama has a legitimate mandate to raise taxes, so let him raise taxes to his heart’s content. Instead of fighting and losing, House Republicans step aside and let the Democrats pass a bill that gives the public a mandate right upside their head.

Only the Democrats do it without a single Republican vote.

Instead, Boehner states very plainly the GOP believes this bill is wrong and raising taxes will damage the economy. Unfortunately, the people have spoken, so the GOP will abstain on this vote. Making the 2014 off–year election a referendum on the Obama plan.

A referendum Republicans will win in a landslide, if we are correct. If we are wrong, and the voters actually want big, bigger and biggest government, then it doesn’t matter anyway.

Using a political rope–a–dope strategy means Republicans can’t be blamed for pushing the country over the fiscal cliff, nor can they be blamed for the recession redux that follows passage of Obama’s Christmas list.

Instead, binary, short–term, tactical thinking has saddled the nation with a terrible deal: $41 in new spending for every $1 in elusive spending cuts. And what’s worse, because the House GOP leadership helped pass the bill, Republicans now have part ownership of the blame for Obama’s failure!

Ss long as Boehner is speaker, this willing participation in mutually assured economic destruction undercuts responsible conservatives in the future.

On the other hand, Republican governors, when presented with an almost identical situation, made just the type of choice I’m advocating.

GOP governors loathe Obamacare. They believe it to be bad policy, bad medicine and bad government. Now Obamacare is the law of the land and the next step is implementation on a state–by–state basis. In any potentially chancy political situation Democrats can be certain to monopolize all the credit and outsource the blame if things go wrong.

Acting on this principle, Democrats established a system where each state is supposed to create a health insurance exchange, which insulates national Democrats from blame. When Obamacare goes horribly wrong, state governors will be in the line of fire, since they created the exchange.

If Boehner had been governor of say Virginia, he would have fallen right into the trap and worked to create an exchange that implemented Obamacare and dispensed blame to Republicans.

Fortunately Bob McDonnell is governor and he — along with other wise Republicans at the state level — refused to create an exchange. Leaving Obamacare a Democrat sole proprietorship, since the exchange will be run by the feds. Obama owns the law and he owns the outcome, because Republicans refused to participate.

Looking ahead, our next defeat will be the vote on increasing the debt limit. Sure Boehner has pledged that he won’t negotiate with Obama in the future, but I fail to see where being buffaloed by Harry Reid is an improvement.

Unfortunately for conservatives, Boehner is an excellent strategist when it comes to protecting his career. As Virginia Del. Rich Anderson (R–VA) points out, back in 2009 Boehner was a strong supporter of a secret ballot for union elections.

Boehner declared that a public vote with union organizers watching would “actually would strip workers of free choice in union organizing elections…. Instead, it would leave them open to coercion and intimidation — from either union officials or company management — to sign or not sign a card expressing their desire to join a union.”

Which makes the 12 Republican members of the House who voted against Boehner on Thursday all the more noble. Since he was watching teamster–like as each one of them voted against him.

Voting as a conservative in the Boehner House is not conducive to career advancement. As the four freshmen Congressmen who lost their committee assignments last month, in retaliation for failing to toe the company line, will be happy to tell you.

Let Obama Leap Off the Fiscal Cliff Alone

Fiscal Cliff Cartoon Blog VersionThe editorial cartoon on the left perfectly summarizes the political situation surrounding fiscal cliff negotiations. The lesson is Republicans will be blamed regardless.

CNN and Pew Research Center polls show a majority of the public will blame the GOP if the country goes over the cliff, even if Speaker Boehner fetches coffee for Obama during negotiations and compliments Michelle on her triceps.

To avoid this the GOP must start thinking strategically. That and take some very useful advice from two unlikely sources: Grover Norquist and Barack Obama.

Norquist urges Republicans to televise negotiations. This is a good idea that will allow the public to see just how intransigent Democrats are. While Obama warns House Republicans to get out of the way, which is exactly what they should do.

While the TV cameras are humming, Boehner should recognize the President built his campaign around raising taxes and voters supported that agenda. Boehner should explain that although Republicans disagree and believe Obama’s policies will plunge the nation back into a recession, if not depression, the people have spoken and Republicans will not obstruct him in any way.

Then — as Dante wrote about denizens of one level of the Inferno — we let Obama be himself with a vengeance. Republicans simply vote ‘present’ and, following the Obamacare precedent, the President’s socialistic, dangerous policy passes without a single Republican vote.

We lose tactically in the short run, but we win strategically in the long run. Negotiating minor cuts at the margin now not only won’t be a victory, it will allow Obama — and his Hallelujah Chorus in the media — to blame the failure of his fiscal policy on Republicans. That is impossible if Obama gets his way.

What’s more, bickering over petty spending cuts, discredits major cuts as a viable debt reduction strategy in the future. When these rounding–error cuts fail to make a difference, Democrats and the media will claim we tried cutting and it didn’t work.

Keep in mind Republican House leadership has a bad track record when it comes to negotiating cuts anyway. The last time we had a debt confrontation in 2011, Boehner came up with a total of $352 million in cuts. To put that in perspective, the amount represents one–tenth of one percent of the budget.

Whoop–tee–freakin’–doo. It would have made more sense to take the “savings” and buy lottery tickets. Last week’s Powerball jackpot was almost twice as large as the “cuts.”

And the wealthy job creators Obama’s tax increase will harm? I repeat, any Obama compromise means Republicans own the failure, because Obama didn’t get all he knew the nation really needed. And in the unlikely event he succeeds — and remember the media will set the bar remarkably low — Obama gets all the credit.

Some will object that House Republicans have just as strong a mandate as Obama, since they were elected, too. But that’s horse hockey. GOP congressmen were re–elected in gerrymandered districts designed to be impossible for Democrats to win. Obama won the entire nation and he’s right about his mandate, misguided as it is.

If recognizing the results of a democratic election is the proper policy in Egypt, it’s the proper policy here, even if the Socialism Brotherhood was the winner.

Holding out for miniscule spending cuts is simply negotiating the length of the rope Obama will use to hang Congressional Republicans.

There are only two instances where the GOP should fight today. One is opposing giving up Congressional debt ceiling authority in the future. The other is Boehner’s promise that if the Democrat Senate changes filibuster rules, all subsequent Senate bills will be DOA in the House.

Giving the President unilateral debt ceiling authority is like giving the Times Square homeless man a pair of boots and a credit card. No Congressional debt authority, along with rewriting filibuster rules, would cause long–term damage to the country and set a dangerous precedent.

Otherwise, let Obama own the agenda and own the responsibility. It will be impossible to blame Republicans for a result they did not in any way impede.

Our goal should be winning in 2014. It’s the asymmetrical strategy I advocated recently; and it is the kind of strategic thinking Republicans need to start utilizing.

Two years of short term pain will result in House and Senate gains that will allow Republicans to start reversing the course of Obamaism. Besides, I want to watch Democrats try to run in 2014 on a platform of “Osama’s Dead & So Is the Economy.”