GOP Vows To Dismantle or Shut Down Government if they Win Senate

A Politico story being promoted by the Drudge Report, “McConnell’s plan to shut down Obama,” makes it clear that if Republicans capture the Senate this fall they will, as the Drudge Report puts it, “play chicken” and shut down the government if President Obama vetoes their legislation to dismantle the government.

From the Politico interview, a threat,

“We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,” McConnell said in an interview aboard his campaign bus traveling through Western Kentucky coal country. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.”

Who does McConnell say would be to blame if the President vetoes bills and Republicans then shut down the government rather than compromise? “McConnell said it would be up to the president to decide whether to veto spending bills that would keep the government open.” (In a related story this week, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) blamed the United States for making them behead an American journalist.)

Dismantle Or Shut Down

Republicans say that if they take the Senate they will pass legislation to dismantle the government.  Jim Manley, former aide to Senator Harry Reid explained in April in the Wall Street Journal, “It is very difficult to imagine that House Republicans’ takeaway from such an election would be to search again for moderation.”

Republicans can be expected to:

  • End the filibuster or use other tactics so Democrats can’t block their agenda.  If they don’t just end the filibuster, Politico reports, “In a private meeting before the summer recess, Republicans discussed using the procedural tool known as budget “reconciliation” to make it easier to pass legislation by avoiding filibusters.”
  • Repeal or defund Obamacare.  Sam Baker, in the National Journal, writes “The ultimate goal is to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with commonsense proposals that solve the cost problem.  But recognizing that Obama will be president for the next three years, we will use every lever we can in the meantime to lay the groundwork for its repeal,” a senior GOP aide said.”
  • Cut Medicare and Social Security. From Politico: “… means testing to limit Medicare benefits for wealthier families and overhauling how inflation is calculated to reduce cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.”
  • Push approval of the Keystone Pipeline and lift restrictions on exporting American oil in order to raise US oil prices.  The Keystone Pipeline would move Canadian tar sands oil to US ports so it can be sold to China instead of in American markets.  Restrictions on exporting US oil are also holding prices down in US markets.  The Christian Science Monitor explains: “Keystone XL is only the beginning, according to Mr. Ebinger.  “It’s the same kind of debate we’re having on lifting the ban on crude oil exports,” Ebinger says.”
  • Restrict the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Hill reports: Senator James Inhofe (Oklahoma) … said his “No. 1” goal is to “end the war on fossil fuels.”  “When Republicans are in the majority, not if,” Inhofe said, he will also “immediately attack the overregulation of the EPA.”  Bloomberg News reports: “A House-passed bill to curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants “is a top priority” for Republicans if they gain control of the Senate in the fall elections, a House Republican said April 10.”
  • Dismantle other agencies.  Al Hunt writes: “Regulatory agencies the party doesn’t like – a long list that includes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency – could turn into toothless watchdogs with slashed budgets.”
  • Block all nominees to every position: Norm Ornstein, writing at the Atlantic: “A Republican Senate would undoubtedly stop confirmation on virtually all Obama-nominated judges, and probably on most of his executive nominees.”  Conservative Hugh Hewitt, writing at Townhall confirms: “McConnell could and I hope does immediately bring an end to all judicial confirmation proceedings –at every level– for the next two years.”
  • Obstruct everything else. Ornstein again: “Start by imagining what the GOP zeitgeist will be if the party picks off six, seven, or eight seats.  My guess, the same as after the 2010 midterms: “Man, did that politics of obstruction work like a charm!  Let’s double down on it and take the whole enchilada in 2016!”  If there is no public backlash against an utterly dysfunctional Congress and a near-complete lack of productivity, why rock the boat?”
  • Restrict abortion and other womens’ healthcare issues.  National Memo: “McConnell used the last day of the National Right to Life Convention to vow that he and his fellow Republicans would pursue “pro-life” policies and measures if control of the Senate shifts right after the midterm elections.”  Mickael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: *A law that would make it a federal crime for an adult to accompany a teen across state lines for an abortion and hold doctors liable for knowing that.  “Think about that,” Crane says.  “This would be the first time we’ve ever made a person carry their state with them, so to speak.”; *A law to ban abortion coverage in all state health-care insurance exchanges.; *A law to ban abortions after 20 weeks with an exception only for the life of the mother.  This, Crane notes, has already passed the House.; *A law to end the contraception benefit in the ACA.
  • Restrict LGBT rights.  The Washington Blade writes, “Speaking to the Washington Blade after her event at the National Press Club, Wasserman Schultz initially responded to an inquiry about what a GOP takeover of the Senate would mean for LGBT people by saying, “Oh, God.” Wasserman Schultz predicted Republicans would curtail the expansion of rights she said are “deserved” by LGBT people in addition to engaging in an “aggressive attempt” to roll them back”  Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have introduced legislation known as the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against organizations that exercise “religious conscience” against same-sex marriage.  Representative Randy Forbes (R-Texas) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have introduced the State Marriage Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage in states where it’s not allowed.”
  • Block consumer protections by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Tomasky again: “Kneecapping the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren’s baby, the new agency within the Fed to police consumer fraud.”
  • Stop efforts to help American companies compete in world markets.  Politico: “McConnell said he would vote against a bill to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a punching bag of conservatives but backed by the business community.”
  • Force the US government to default on its debts.  The next debt-ceiling fight is expected to occur in March, 2015.  Mitch McConnell has previously said that the debt ceiling should be used to extract concessions. momentum will be entirely on the Republican side here.
  • Impeach President Obama.  With control of the Senate in Republican hands House Republicans will have a reason to believe they would succeed in removing President Obama from office.  The Conservative Tribune explains: “As one retired general stated, it looks like Congress is “full of cowards” who are too afraid to impeach Obama for his role in Benghazi.  But one prominent Republican senator just called for exactly that, and it’s about time.  “Senator James Inhofe says that if the GOP takes back the Senate in 2014, Obama could be impeached.”

This is the Republican agenda, should they take the Senate.  If the President tries to stop their effort to dismantle the government they will resort to their time-tested fall back position: just shut down the government.  And, of course, blame anyone but themselves.


Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on August 20, 2014, on Seeing the Forest, a website featuring commentary by Dave Johnson, frequent public speaker and talk-radio guest and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community.  It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Johnson.

Image Credit: Politico

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