As ThinkProgress has noted, a burgeoning number of Republican lawmakers have voiced support for the idea of shutting down the federal government if their right-wing demands are not met, just as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did in 1995. Congress may face a vote early next year to raise the government’s debt ceiling. Failure to do so would lead to a shutdown, and perhaps a default on the government’s debt — both of which would have devastating consequences for the country and the global economy — and these GOP lawmakers are looking to use that vote as leverage.
Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee (R-MI) — who ran on a message of bringing “true Conservatism” to Washington — joined this band of GOP hostage-takers this week, promising host Brian Fisher of the far-right American Family Association’s radio show that he would back a government shutdown and vote against raising the debt ceiling if Democrats refuse to repeal the Affordable Care Act:
HOST: How far are you willing to go to make sure this monstrosity to make sure [the Affordable Care Act] does not get implemented? Are you willing to participate in what would lead to a shutdown of the federal government to stop this monstrosity from going down he tracks?
NUNNELEE: I agree with Congressman Boehner. We need to do whatever is necessary to make sure this bill never goes into effect. It’s the worst piece of legislation to pass the Congress in over a century. [...]
HOST: Congressman Nunnelee, would you be willing — I think you just answered it with health care, but when it comes to fiscal policy– are you willing to participate in a shutdown of the federal government if that’s the only way to get the president to come to the table.
NUNNELEE: Yeah. You know, if Republicans learned anything from the post 1994 election, is that’s the people of America do not want us to come to Washington and start acting like the people we replaced.
A number of Republican leaders like Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have laid out plans to use the debt ceiling vote to extort Democrats. But threatening to shut down the government also means threatening to cut off the Social Security and Medicare benefits that millions of seniors rely on, which they would not receive during a shutdown.
It’s bad enough that these lawmakers want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and all the benefits and protections that come with it, but by ignoring the dangers of a shutdown, they have apparently put conservative demagoguery about the debt ahead of the country’s well being, and are looking to take nation’s economy and its seniors hostage to advance their partisan political agenda.