Stirring the Pot on Government Shutdowns

National Republican Congressional Committee - President Obama and top Democrats have furiously raised the possibility of a federal government shutdown if an agreement cannot be reached on funding government for the remainder of FY 2011, while at the same time claiming they want to avoid such a shutdown:

“President Obama warned of stopped Social Security checks and issued a formal veto threat Tuesday to the Republican spending plan currently being debated in the House, setting the stage for a potential government shutdown next month.” (Chris Stirewalt, “Obama Issues Government Shutdown Threat,” Fox News, 2/16/2011)

JAY CARNEY: “White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday the Obama administration continues to believe the United States will avoid a government shutdown, citing statements from the congressional leaders of both parties expressing confidence that a deal can be done.” (Alister Bull, “White House: Government Shutdown Can Be Avoided,” Reuters, 2/22/2011)

HIGH-RANKING NANCY PELOSI AIDE: “Democrats in Congress are preparing for a government shutdown, a congressional aide told RealClearPolitics Friday morning.

“An aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told a meeting of Democratic chiefs of staff in the House that there is a 90 percent chance the government will shut down, and they need to plan accordingly.” (Erin McPike, “Dems Preparing for Government Shutdown,” Real Clear Politics, 2/18/2011)

SEN. MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): “‘Of course it’s a possibility,’ Reid said Tuesday of a possible shutdown.” (Chris Moody, “Reid Says a Shutdown Is “A Possibility” After Blasting a Republican For Saying The Same Thing Last Week,” The Daily Caller, 2/15/2011)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Schumer said that Republicans would be responsible for a shutdown if they are not willing to come to the table and negotiate.” (Steven T. Dennis, “Senate Democrats: GOP Spending Plan ‘Unworkable,” Roll Call, 2/3/2011)

Yet even as they decry a federal government shutdown, Obama and other top Democrats have actively contributed to a shutdown in Wisconsin by aiding and encouraging the government employee protestors there:

OBAMA: “‘Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions,’ President Obama told TMJ4 in Milwaukee.” (“Obama on Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law: An ‘Assault on Unions’”, Real Clear Politics, 2/17/2011)

PELOSI: “‘I stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers,’ Dem Leader Pelosi says on Capitol Hill” (Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Memoli tweet, @mikememoli, 2/18/2011)

In fact, the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign provided critical support for the protests:

“The DNC was, earlier this week, eager to tout its role in the Wisconsin protests…” (Ben Smith, “DNC, Under the Bus,” Politico, 2/22/2011)

“OfA Wisconsin's field efforts include filling buses and building turnout for the rallies this week in Madison, organizing 15 rapid response phone banks urging supporters to call their state legislators, and working on planning and producing rallies, a Democratic Party official in Washington said.

“The @OFA_WI twitter account has published 54 tweets promoting the rallies, which the group has also plugged on its blog.” (Ben Smith, “DNC Playing Role in Wisconsin Protests,” Politico, 2/17/2011)

How can Obama honestly claim he is worried about the impact of a federal government shutdown when he has encouraged state employees to strike in Wisconsin?:

“The obvious point here is that if it's so ‘reckless’ to shutdown the government, why have Wisconsin legislators, the President and the DNC all supported the government shutdown in Wisconsin? Not only that, they have shutdown the government by fleeing the state and breaking the law, not to mention the illegal union strikes shutting down schools and national Democrats helping to organize the angry mob descending on Madison…

“[I]t will be very hard for Democrats to make the case against it with any moral authority and stir up voter sympathy.” (Mark Hemingway, “After Wisconsin, How Do Democrats Argue Against a GOP Government Shutdown?”, The Weekly Standard, 2/20/2011)

This gap between rhetoric and reality is a serious problem for the Obama administration, as it exposes the cynical political posturing at the heart of the Democrats’ strategy:

“For all the effort Democrats have put into portraying Republicans to be hot on the idea of a shutdown, it’s really Democrats who are talking much more about it — almost incessantly. “By talking about a shutdown — and saying it’s Republicans who want one — Democratic leaders are making sure to position themselves for the blame game that would surely ensue.” (Jonathan Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown, “How a Government Shutdown Could Happen,” Politico, 2/22/2011)

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