Posted by: Jeff | April 8, 2011

What Exactly Is This Shutdown About?

In presenting a stopgap measure to continue federal government funding to allow additional time to pass a complete budget, Speaker of the House John Boehner opened with a proposal to make $32 Billion in cuts to non-military discretionary funding.  However, facing criticism from more conservative members of the Republican House, Boehner has now upper his demand to include a total of $35 Billion in cuts and a non-germane amendment stripping Planned Parenthood of any and all federal funding (most of which goes to screening, education, and prevention).

Why the sudden increase in Boehner’s demand?  Well, in part he is playing to conservative interests in Congress, but in essence he’s trying to make President Obama look bad.  Obama, who agreed in principle to Boehner’s initial proposal, is adamant that he would veto the new “poison pill” measure being pushed by the House Republicans.  So now we have Republicans on television saying that Obama is choosing to defund the military rather than make budget cuts.

Is this going to work?  Well, it might, as Democrats seem to tremble at the thought of a unified message, and Republicans balk at using non-germane social agendas to derail what essentially amounts to $32 Billion in real savings.  Steve Benen in The Washington Monthly explains:

EVEN REPUBLICANS START TO BALK AT A CULTURE-WAR SHUTDOWN…. Perhaps the biggest political danger for congressional Republicans isn’t just shutting down the government, it’s shutting down the government for a ridiculous reason that the American mainstream will find absurd.

This isn’t what House GOP leaders were hoping for at this stage in the process. Democrats spent much of yesterday arguing that Republicans would rather fight over hot-button social issues than keep the government running. These remarks from Toomey, Coburn, and Bachmann — not a moderate in the bunch — only help reinforce the accuracy of the Democratic message.

It’s up to Speaker Boehner and his caucus to see the writing on the wall here. A great deal hangs in the balance.

Indeed.

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