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Shut the whole thing down

Absent some last-minute miraculous infusion of common sense, by the time you read this we will probably be in the first hours of a House Republican-engineered government shutdown. This is unnecessary, reckless, irresponsible, dangerous and childish for at least three reasons. 

First, most members of the House don’t want to shut down the government. There are enough bipartisan votes to pass the budget, if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would only let the full House vote. Instead, he’s bowing to a handful of Tea Party Republicans who want to shut down the government and are using ObamaCare as an excuse. They might only number 30 or 40, but there are enough of them to block a majority in the Republican caucus — and without that majority of the majority, the so-called “Hastert Rule,” Boehner won’t move forward for fear of losing his Speakership. He’d rather stop 800,000 federal employees from working than risk his own job.  

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Second, for government to work at all, you just can’t keep re-fighting old battles. Republicans have already had three chances to kill ObamaCare. They opposed it in Congress and they lost. They appealed it before the Supreme Court and they lost. They took it to the American people in November 2012 and they lost, big time. Like it or not, as even Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has pointed out, it’s time to move on. 

ObamaCare is the law of the land. It’s here to stay. Lawmakers can tweak it, they can improve it, but they’re not going to kill it. And Republicans should not be able to delay its implementation as a price for doing their job in passing a budget,  no more than Democrats could have gotten away with refusing to vote for a budget unless George W. Bush abolished his tax cuts for the wealthy.

Third, here’s what’s most outrageous of all: Republicans aren’t shutting down the entire government. They’re only shutting down part of the government. Republicans, in other words, want it both ways. They want a painless shutdown. Under their plan, the Post Office will still deliver the mail. Air traffic controllers will monitor flights. The TSA will screen your bags. Meat and poultry inspectors will keep your food safe. And our troops will still be fighting in Afghanistan.

This is nonsense! If we’re really going to shut down the government, let’s shut the whole damned thing down, starting with Congress. No paychecks for lawmakers. No Capitol Police on duty. No Transportation Security Administration. No air traffic controllers. No mail. No Social Security or Medicare checks. No meat inspections. No Coast Guard rescues. No border guards. Let’s shut the whole thing down. Make it hurt. That’s the only way to show what a dangerous and monumentally stupid idea it is.


Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.