Utah Senate GOP candidate Mike Lee: A government shutdown “May be absolutely necessary”
Earlier this week, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Now more Republicans have crush the always-dubious notion that we might see some sort of post-partisan compromise on energy or any other government-funded strategy to create jobs or protect the health and well-being of our children. ThinkProgress has the story.Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is in line to become a powerful committee leader should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, made some waves last week when he said he wanted to work with President Obama after the midterm elections. “We have a real opportunity to get some things done,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Issa quickly refined his position, however, later telling ABC’s Top Line that “the word ‘compromise’ has been misunderstood.” He clarified that his job will be “getting America back to the center right where it exists.”
It seems the Republican leadership agrees with Issa “” there will only be compromise if the President agrees to everything it wants. According to a Washington Post profile published yesterday, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “let out a long sigh when asked where he would look to work with Obama,” and then said “I came here to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government, and to the extent that [Obama] wants to work with us in terms of where we’re going, I would certainly welcome it.” On Sean Hannity’s radio show yesterday, he made it much more explicit: “This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles,” he said.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), appearing on CNN’s Parker Spitzer last night, was equally as strident, saying that in 1994 when the Republicans took control of Congress “there was altogether too much compromise,” and promised that “there will be no compromise” if Republicans take control after the midterms, specifically on issues like “repealing ObamaCare lock stock and barrel.” Watch it:
Polls show Americans want Republicans and Democrats to work together in order to achieve progress on major issues, and at a meeting with some progressive bloggers at the White House yesterday, President Obama said he was willing to do that:
THE PRESIDENT: Look, the “” I’m a pretty stubborn guy when it comes to, on the one hand, trying to get cooperation. I don’t give up just because I didn’t get cooperation on this issue; I’ll try the next issue. If the Republicans don’t agree with me on fiscal policy, maybe they’ll agree with me on infrastructure. If they don’t agree with me on infrastructure, I’ll try to see if they agree with me on education.
So I’m just going to keep on trying to see where they want to move the country forward.
If Obama “wants to see where they want to move the country,” GOP leaders are making clear they’re less interested in moving it than in defeating him.
– George Zornick, in a TP cross-post.
JR: We’ve seen Rep. Steve King (R-IA) demand a “blood oath” from Boehner to shut down the government. Now comes Utah Senate GOP candidate (and likely winner) Mike Lee saying, a government shutdown “may be absolutely necessary“:
Last week, Roll Call reported that the “campaign rhetoric of tea party-inspired Republicans is on a collision course with the federal debt limit, which could make the threat of a government shutdown an early order of business in a new Republican majority.” Indeed, a number of leading Republicans have endorsed the idea of a government shutdown, from Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) to Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller, despite RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s claim that there aren’t “any candidates” proposing one.
In an interview with NPR today about what tea party-backed candidates would do if they gain seats in Congress, Utah GOP Senate nominee Mike Lee explicitly said he would refuse to vote to raise the debt limit, even if it leads to a government shutdown:
“Our current debt is a little shy of $14 trillion. And I don’t want it to increase 1 cent above the current debt limit and I will vote against that,” he says.
Even if it leads to government default and shutdown?
“It’s an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it’s not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out,” he says. “It may be absolutely necessary.”
As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo noted yesterday, this is not the first time Lee “” who is almost guaranteed to win Tuesday “” has endorsed the idea of a government shutdown. At a recent town hall meeting, Lee went even further than on NPR, threatening a government shutdown if President Obama doesn’t agree to an immediate 40 percent reduction in the federal budget, outside of defense and Social Security.
Lee’s dismissal of a shutdown as a mere “inconvenience” shows a startling lack of sensitivity or understanding about what a shutdown would actually entail. As Newsweek’s Andrew Romano notes, satisfying Lee’s 40 percent cut demand “would require slashing every government program that’s not defense or Social Security” “” including Medicare, veterans affairs, education, the FBI, and the border patrol “” 89.6 percent.” Considering that the FBI just foiled a potentially major terrorist plot against the Washington, DC Metro system, a 90 percent reduction in their budget may not be the soundest policy idea.
But even beyond Lee’s absurd demand for a 40 percent cut, a government shutdown is far more than a mere “inconvenience.” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s government shutdown in 1995 was disastrous; it ended up costing taxpayers over $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees, delayed access to Medicare and Social Security, and caused a “[m]ajor curtailment in services,” including health services, to veterans.
– Alex Seitz Wald in a TP cross-post.