Government-Shutdown Crisis Proceeding on Schedule

What with all the attention being paid to Syria, most people have forgotten that we're just three weeks away from a government shutdown unless Congress passes a continuing resolution (CR), which is the (relatively) quick-and-easy way of keeping the government operating at current funding levels without writing a whole new budget. As you may remember, Tea Party Republicans in the House would like to use the threat of a government shutdown to force a defunding of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, while the Republican leadership, conservatives to a person, realizes that this is spectacularly stupid. If they hold up the CR with a defunding demand, Barack Obama will say no, the government will shut down, Republicans will get every ounce of the blame, and it'll be a complete disaster for the GOP. Eventually they'll give in and pass a CR, but only after having caused a crisis and eroding their brand even further, and by the way not actually defunding Obamacare.

So House Majority Leader Eric Cantor came up with something resembling a solution. The way it would work is that the House would pass two versions of the CR, one that defunds Obamacare and one that doesn't. They would then send them to the Senate, which would presumably pass only the one that doesn't defund Obamacare, which Obama would then sign. As Politico describes it, "The arrangement allows all sides to express themselves, but it surrenders the shutdown leverage that some conservatives hunger for." And not surprisingly, Tea Partiers both inside and outside Congress don't like it. Take, for instance, high-profile bloviator Erick Erickson of Red State and CNN. Here's how his reaction starts:

Eric Cantor is always looking for new and imaginative ways to screw conservatives.

Let me stop you right there. Really? Does Erickson really believe that Eric Cantor, he of the 96 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union and equally near-perfect ratings from every other conservative organization, the guy who dreams of challenging John Boehner from the right—he's "always looking for new and imaginative ways to screw conservatives"?

The rest of Erickson's analysis of the situation isn't particularly wrong in its facts, but this is what happens when you've spent a long time marinating in the fever swamp. A disagreement over tactics is immediately interpreted as an ideological betrayal. If asked, Cantor would say that he wants to repeal Obamacare as much as anybody, but he knows that shutting down the government next month is not only not going to accomplish that, it will impede everything else conservatives want to do. And he'd be telling the truth. But some people just can't hear it.

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