The campaign chief for House Democrats on Thursday said conservatives only run for Congress because they like "the swag."
Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said "there is no hope" for negotiating with conservatives because they don't believe in government.
Asked why, then, conservatives run for office, Israel said it was because of the "swag."
Israel accused House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerObama mocks GOP, media and himself in final WHCD address Obama pals around with Boehner in WHCD video Sunday shows preview: Cruz pulls out all the stops ahead of Indiana MORE (R-Ohio) of being more concerned with preserving his power than keeping the economy going in the fight over a government funding bill.
"Every time that Speaker BoehnerJohn BoehnerObama mocks GOP, media and himself in final WHCD address Obama pals around with Boehner in WHCD video Sunday shows preview: Cruz pulls out all the stops ahead of Indiana MORE has had a choice between moving the country forward and working with Democrats, or caving in to his right-wing lunatic fringe, he's selected option B: Cave in to the right-wing lunatic fringe," he said. "That's not leadership. He's more concerned with keeping the gavel than he is keeping the economy running."
Israel's comments come as Republicans prepare to vote for a government funding measure that defunds ObamaCare. The bill is virtually certain to fail in the Senate.
The White House has pledged not to negotiate over President Obama's healthcare law. Senate Democrats look poised to strip the ObamaCare defunding plank from the current law and send it back to the House.
Conservatives have threatened to oppose any bill that includes funding
for the health care law, a pledge that amounts to a threat to shut down
The choice by House leadership to allow for a vote on a continuing resolution that defunds ObamaCare was widely seen as a concession to the conservative wing of the GOP.
Israel put it stronger than that, calling Boehner "a captive of the Tea Party."
Many mainstream Republicans are opposed to the shutdown strategy, concerned with the effect it could have on the economy and the political fallout for Republicans if the GOP gets the blame, as polling indicates the party would.
Israel said that conservatives are pursuing a shutdown strategy because they are in "a right-wing fantasy land."
"They just don't listen," he added. "They only listen to themselves in this bubble; they listen to themselves at the Tea Party caucus; they listen to themselves rant and rave in their individual meetings, but they're not listening to the American people."
Israel echoed the hopes of others Democrats that, if a shutdown occurs, it could create electoral opportunities for the party in 2014. Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to take back the majority, a tall order in a midterm year, but the party believes if the GOP does receive the blame for any fallout from a shutdown, that could make their fight easier next fall.