Late last week, White House and congressional negotiators struck a deal to keep the government running, cutting “$38.5 billion under current funding levels, per Republican demands,” and $78 billion below what Obama called for in his initial 2011 budget.
This deal, while highly contentious, managed to avert a government shutdown for the time being. During the run-up to the deal, Republicans, who had often cheered on a shutdown in the past, claimed that they wanted to keep the government running more than anyone. Last Friday, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) appeared on Lou Dobbs’s Fox Business show to attack President Obama for his supposed lack of leadership on the issue, saying that he should say that no one wants a shutdown:
SHELBY: I think the president could, if he could show leadership he could step in here and say, we’re gonna fund the government. Nobody wants the government shutdown. That’s absurd.
Yet this morning, Shelby completely changed his tune. Asked by a Fox Business host this morning if he was willing to shut down the government over refusing to raise the debt ceiling, he said he would consider it:
HOST: Would you be willing to risk a government shutdown in order to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised any?
SHELBY: I would certainly consider it. I would have to see the debate and be in it at the time.
It appears that Shelby is laying out a playbook for his Republican colleagues: consistently threaten a government shutdown anytime you want anything, and then pull back at the last second and blame the opposition party. And when the next issue comes up, simply repeat the process once more — putting our very fiscal solvency and economic well-being in the crosshairs.