Democrats Politick Around A Potential Shutdown

April 7, 2011

Democrats Try to Score Political Points on the Current Mess They Created by Failing to Do Their Job Last Year


In recent days, some Democrats admitted why a government shutdown looks as possible as ever: it’s their fault. Democrats created the current mess by failing to pass a budget when they controlled the process:


REP. JASON ALTMIRE (D-PA): “I think that is accurate, yes. We should have passed a budget. We wouldn’t be in this predicament unless we let ourselves get here. It is self-inflicted. But the fact is that’s where we are.”(Remarks from Jason Altmire, Fox News’ “Your World With Cavuto”, 3/31/2011)


REP. NORM DICKS (D-WA): “And I will be the first to admit that it is because we, the Democrats, didn’t pass our bills last year that we are here working on this. … I, personally, feel we have some responsibility here.” (Floor Speech by Norm Dicks, YouTube, 3/1/2011)


DEMOCRATS FAILED TO PASS A BUDGET IN 2010: “House Democrats will not pass a budget blueprint in 2010, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will confirm in a speech on Tuesday.” (Jared Allen, “Dems Won’t Pass Budget in 2010,” The Hill, 5/22/2010)
ABC NEWS’ JAKE TAPPER: “REMARKABLE” THAT DEMOCRATS ARE NOT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY. “It is remarkable to hear Dems slam GOPers for not passing … last year’s budget when Dems ruled the roost.” (Tweet from ABC News’ Jake Tapper, 4/6/2011)


But rather than working with Republicans as constructive partners to avoid a government shutdown, Democrats have been quite open about their desire to exploit the possibility of a shutdown for political gain. As the deadline for a budget deal draws nearer, Democrats have been working around the clock—to fundraise:

DSCC “FUNDRAISING OFF POTENTIAL SHUTDOWN”: “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee distributed a fundraising solicitation Thursday morning seeking help to stop Republicans and the tea party, whose intent, the committee said, is to shut down the government.” (Kyle Tyrgstad, “DSCC Fundraising Off Potential Shutdown,” Roll Call, 4/7/2011)


AFTER DCCC FUNDRAISED OFF THE SHUTDOWN WEDNESDAY: “A fundraising appeal from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns supporters that ‘Tea Party Republicans are threatening to shut down the government on Friday unless we surrender to their outrageous demands.’”(Shane D’Aprile, “Dems Fundraising Off Threat of Shutdown,” The Hill, 4/6/2011)




This cynical political maneuvering follows extensive earlier commentary from top Democrats that a government shutdown would be “the best thing in the world” and a political win for their party:

POLITICO: “IF DEMOCRATS WANT TO AVOID A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, THEY HAVE A FUNNY WAY OF SHOWING IT.”  “If Democrats want to avoid a government shutdown, they have a funny way of showing it. … More Democrats acknowledge privately they believe that they win either way — Republican leaders cut a deal or take the heat for a shutdown. … [I]t’s a hell of a gamble for Democrats to embrace a breakdown in governance. After all, they control the White House and the Senate, and budget-cutting Republicans just claimed Democratic-held seats in every corner of the country, from Washington to Florida and from New Hampshire to Arizona.” (Jonathan Allen and Meredith Shiner, “GOP Seizes on Dem Shutdown Talk,” Politico, 3/30/2011)

FMR DNC CHAIRMAN HOWARD DEAN: A SHUTDOWN “WOULD BE THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD”: “‘If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it,’ said Dean, speaking on a National Journal Insider’s Conference panel Tuesday morning.” …


“‘From a partisan point of view, I think it would be the best thing in the world to have a shutdown,’ said Dean.” (Alex Roarty, “Howard Dean: Democrats Should be ‘Quietly Rooting’ for Shutdown,” National Journal, 3/29/2011)


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER CAUGHT ISSUING “MARCHING ORDERS” TO CARICATURE GOP POSITION ON FY ’11 BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS AS “EXTREME”: “After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. ‘I always use the word extreme,’ Mr. Schumer said, ‘That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.’


“A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.” (Jennifer Steinhauer, “On Senate Call, a Glimpse of Marching Orders,” The New York Times, 3/29/2011)

CNN: DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN “EAGER TO TALK OF [A] GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN” FOR MONTHS. (Dana Bash, Ted Barrett, and Rachel Streitfeld, “Democrats Eager To Talk Of Government Shutdown,” CNN’s “Political Ticker” Blog, 2/3/11)


Meanwhile, House Republicans are taking steps to avert a shutdown by passing yet another GOP-initiated stopgap measure to keep the government running while enacting responsible spending cuts. But with only two days left to avoid a shutdown, Obama has said he would veto such a stopgap measure, with congressional Democrats fully on board:


OBAMA SAYS HE WILL VETO EFFORT TO AVOID SHUTDOWN: “The White House just confirmed that it’s a nonstarter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as well. … In a ‘Statement of Administration Policy,’ the White House said that it will veto the one-week measure if it passes in Congress, saying that the stopgap measure is “a distraction” from a long-term solution to the budget impasse.” (Mike Viqueira, Luke Russert and Carrie Dann, “White House Threatens Veto of GOP-Backed One Week Funding Bill,” MSNBC’s First Read, 4/7/2011)


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV) AGREES THAT GOP PLAN TO AVOID SHUTDOWN “A NONSTARTER”: “This morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that a House-proposed one-week extension of government funding — which contains long-term funding for the Defense Department, deep cuts to other spending measures, and a provision preventing the use of D.C. city taxes for abortion services — is ‘a nonstarter’ in the Senate.” (Mike Viqueira, Luke Russert and Carrie Dann, “White House Threatens Veto of GOP-Backed One Week Funding Bill,”MSNBC’s First Read, 4/7/2011)


DEMOCRAT WHIP REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD) ENCOURAGES DEMS TO VOTE AGAINST STOPGAP: “House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) told reporters that he would oppose the one-week stopgap funding measures that House Republicans have floated as an option if lawmakers and the White House are unable to act before Friday to continue funding for the government. … Hoyer said he would urge other House Democrats to vote against Republicans’ one-week funding measure…” (Michael J. Crittenden, “US Rep Hoyer: Government Shutdown Would Greatly Hurt Economy,” Dow Jones, 4/5/2011)