Making full use of their arsenal for gridlock, many GOP members are itching for the opportunity to force a government shutdown next year. Forming a veritable “shutdown caucus,” a new cohort of Republicans like Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee (MS), Rep.-elect Tim Walberg (MI), and Sen.-elect Mike Lee (UT) joined veteran Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to push the radical tactic, popular among their conservative base. Indeed, Tea Party leaders and their conservative cohort are keen to pull the shutdown trigger, firing warning shots at Republicans who “may be growing squeamish” at the thought.
But “one of the most popular Republicans in the nation” is brushing off such clamoring as political noise. Asked by Newsmax’s Kathleen Walter whether he viewed the “grassroots conservatives” push for shutdown as a “mistake,” Bush dismissed the notion as “a little naive,” because, quite simply, “you can’t shut down the government”:
WALTER: Governor Bush, some grassroots conservatives say that Republicans should reserve the right to shutdown the federal government rather than vote to raise the debt ceiling in the next Congress. Do you view that as a mistake?
BUSH: I view it as a little naïve. First of all, you can’t shut down the government. There are public safety, national security issues, that override a well-intended point, I’m sure, that government is way too big. Better to have a plan on how you reduce the debt by reducing the deficit. And that plan is out there…You can create a roadmap where you have declining deficits that would create a whole lot of confidence, a lot more confidence than shutting down government for a couple of weeks and then admitting that its not going to be finished. It’s harder to build consensus around the tough choices that have to be made, but that’s what has to be done.
Watch it (starting at 9:00):
Dubbing a government shutdown over the debt ceiling “naive” is a bit of an understatement. The GOP’s first attempt to shut down the government in 1995 and 1996 threatened “worldwide economic catastrophe,” cost taxpayers more than $800 million and “shook international confidence in U.S. government bonds.” What’s more, a failure to raise the debt ceiling would not only result in a government shutdown itself, but would cause “worldwide financial panic,” a “default on the national debt,” a “severe drop in economic growth and employment,” and an “actual increase in long-term deficits and debt.” The GOP plan to threaten public safety and national security in order to secure a full-on economic meltdown is much more than naive, it’s a surefire disaster.
Like Bush, some GOP members including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) are beginning to realize the “chaos” that would ensure from such a policy. As the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen notes, certainly their public remarks which “position a shutdown as beyond the pale help create an incentive for Republicans to avoid one.” But Paul’s own impossible proposal to find enough cuts to balance the deficit in one to two years threatens “chaos” of its own and “even possibly a shutdown.” Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap, which Bush touts as a good shutdown alternative, is just as misguided. Not only would it radically undermine Social Security through privatization, it would tax the middle class at a higher rate than the wealthy and end Medicare as we know it. While Bush is right to warn his comrades against a shutdown, his misplaced “hope” that younger GOP members will “show a better path” appears to be equally naive.