A significant number of Republicans are beginning to rally around the idea of shutting down the government if they control Congress next year. Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Steve King (R-IA) have openly called for a shutdown, while Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and RNC Chairman Michael Steele have given their tacit endorsements. The last time Republicans shut down the government, right after taking power in 1995, the government lost $800 million and millions of Americans were denied or delayed access to Medicare, Social Security, national parks, and other federally-funded programs.
Undaunted, Tea Party darling Joe Miller is pitching his tent in the government-shutdown camp. Miller, currently locked in a three-way Alaska Senate race, has already generated significant controversy after it was revealed that his wife received unemployment benefits that he believes are unconstitutional and he personally received Medicaid benefits that he believes are unconstitutional. Now, Miller is not only endorsing a government shutdown if he is elected, but also told National Review Online’s Robert Costa that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has put the option “on the table”:
“I think there’s an understanding that the mood of the nation has changed in such a way that there is not going to be toleration of business as usual. If that means shutting down the government, so be it. I mean, we’ll do what it takes,” [Miller] says. “I think that we will have enough like-minded people coming into D.C. that we’re actually going to be able to accomplish something.”
But is Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, open to the possibility of shutting down the federal government? “There was a comment made at breakfast this morning about shutting down the government, and he reacted in a positive way,” Miller says. “I’m not going to quote him, but I think that he recognizes that that’s on the table.”
McConnell’s office has since responded that the Republican Leader “has not called for shutting down the government.” However, McConnell’s spokesman was silent on whether or not the option is on the table, as Miller asserted.
In his interview, Miller also called for war with Iran if they did not cease their nuclear ambitions, saying “we will do what we can militarily to take care of that.” However, moments later, Mr. “Noun, Verb, and Unconstitutional” hedged on actually toppling the Iranian government because that would not be “constitutionally authorized.” For those keeping score, Miller has now added nation-building to his growing list of things he views as unconstitutional, including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and the minimum wage.