Alexander's Column

Shutdown Showdown: A Theatrical Review

Excerpts From the Script, Day 10

By Mark Alexander · Oct. 10, 2013

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” –Thomas Jefferson (1816)

The political theatrics over the current furlough of 17% of federal bureaucrats deemed “non essential,” and the looming deadline for raising the national debt ceiling, surely will sweep the Emmy Awards this year.

On one side, there is Barack Hussein Obama and his Leftist NeoCom cadres, who treat their political opponents with the same “comity and respect” socialist dictators exhibit with dissenters who question their autocratic decrees.

On the other side are House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their endangered band of Republicans.

Watching Obama’s petulant and paternalistic approach to Boehner in particular, I’m inclined to borrow and butcher a classic line from Strother Martin, the prison warden in “Cool Hand Luke,” after his repeated attempts to beat Luke into submission: “What we’ve got here is failure to negotiate.”

For his part, Obama claims:

“What I’ve said is that I will talk about anything. … I’ve shown myself willing to engage all the parties involved, every leader, on every issue. … If reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I’m ready to head up to the Hill. … But I’m not gonna do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy. … I’ve shown myself as willing to go more than halfway. … Again, I’m happy to talk. … I’m prepared to talk about anything.”

Memo to Barry: We are a Republic, not a democracy, and there is a difference in dissension and extortion.

Obama continued:

“Pass a budget, end the government shutdown, pay our bills and prevent an economic shutdown. And as soon as that happens, I am eager and ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans on a whole range of issues.”

Harry Reid got the memo:

“I just finished a telephonic conversation with Speaker Boehner. My message to him was very simple. We have to stop playing these foolish games that keep coming to us from the other side of the Capitol. This is not about him or me, about scoring points for one side or the other, name-calling, like the villain of villains. It’s about doing the right thing for the American people. They expect us to act like adults. … Open the government, pay our bills, let’s negotiate.”

Obama’s always-petty and insolent White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, pulled out all the hyperbolic stops, claiming:

“[Obama] is willing to have negotiations about what steps we should take to fund our government in a way that allows us to invest in the future, protect the middle class, attract businesses to the United States, and reduce our deficit in a responsible and balanced way. … He’s not willing to negotiate over Republican demands to collapse the world economy. … But he will meet after Republicans agree to leave the matches and the gasoline outside of the room.”

Of course, Obama’s faux overture to negotiate is a bald-faced LIE, which one can fairly assume is the case any time there is a microphone nearby. As George Orwell wrote, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

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For his part, John Boehner held his ground, for the moment:

“What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works. The long and short of it is, there is going to be a negotiation here. We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means. The idea that we should continue to spend money that we don’t have and give the bill to our kids and our grandkids would be wrong. I didn’t come here to shut down the government. I certainly didn’t come here to default on our debt. But when it comes to the debt limit, again, over the last 40 years, 27 times, the debt limit has been used to carry significant policy changes that would in fact reduce spending and put us on a saner fiscal path. It’s time to have that conversation … today.”

Responding to his Republican opponents, Obama proclaimed:

“I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the USA through the mud just to re-fight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families…”

This from a guy who has, singlehandedly, done more to “drag the good name of the USA through the mud” and “hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families” than any president in our nation’s history.

Obama added:

“I’m not budging when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States.”

In other words, he’s determined to continue down the same path of fiscal self destruction, as long as he has unlimited ability to continue redistributing wealth and creating more government dependents, his most loyal constituent base.

Of course, Republicans in the House have passed bipartisan bills to restore funding to key government services.

Asked why he has been signing those measures, Obama replied:

“Of course I’m tempted, because you’d like to think that you could solve at least some of the problem if you couldn’t solve all of it. But here’s the problem. … If we do some sort of shotgun approach like that, then you’ll have some programs that are highly visible get funded and reopened … but things that don’t get a lot of attention … not being funded.”

So, that’s his answer – that’s the best he can do – given his history of unilaterally and unconstitutionally deciding which laws he will enforce and which he won’t? And for the record, regarding that “shotgun approach,” Obama did sign the House legislation to pay military personnel and civilians DoD deems essential – obviously a political calculation.

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And the “highly visible” closures are precisely those Obama decided to shutter as part of his “Make ‘em Suffer” strategy. You know, closing the open-air World War II Memorial for veterans and their families, and all the other Mall monuments. Yet despite these high-profile closures, he ordered the National Park Service to reopen the Washington Monument area in order to host a large protest for immigration reform (read: amnesty) – for his party’s future constituents.

In advance of next week’s theatrics, Obama has provided Republicans with plenty of fodder for the debt ceiling debate, most notably his recent assertion:

“Now, this debt ceiling – I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up – raising the debt ceiling … does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. … The average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship…”

“Pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress”? Apparently Obama’s trillion dollar “economic stimulus program” is just something Congress “racked up.” Apparently, the trillion-dollar annual deficits our nation has incurred since he took office are just something Congress “racked up.” By any objective standard, this president is the biggest spender and political gamesman in U.S. history. (For a little arithmetic perspective, one trillion seconds is more than 31,000 years.)

Indeed, “the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt,” and the average person would be right.

Taking a walk down memory lane, I vividly recall then-candidate Obama waxing long on the Republican-controlled Senate floor in March 2006 about President Bush’s request to raise the debt ceiling:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. … This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy. … Interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans – a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about. If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

And then there was that “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” presidential campaign speech in July of 2008:

“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – Number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back – $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”

Fact Check: During the eight years George W. Bush was in office, our national debt increased by $4.9 trillion, due primarily to the economic consequences of 9/11 and the funding of two major warfronts in response. Yet in just five years since Obama took office, his faux “economic recovery plan” has piled $6.1 trillion onto the nation’s debt. Yes, No. 44 added $6.1 trillion “by his lonesome,” so that we now have nearly $17 trillion of debt burden – more than $54,000 for every American man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. That’s unpatriotic.

And last, given that the current brouhaha began with a Republican strategy to force Democrat votes on ObamaCare “defund” and “delay” measures, it is worth recalling Obama’s promise, “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. We’ll do it by the end of my first term…” Well the results are in and according to the latest budget research on Obama’s nationalized health care scheme, it will result in a per capita increase of insurance costs.

It remains to be seen whether Speaker Boehner will submit to Obama, the prison warden, or hold out, even unto his demise, as Cool Hand Luke did.

Footnote: According to analysis by the Wall Street Journal, when Sen. Ted Cruz unwittingly derailed the conservative House CR strategy, he may have boosted his political capital, but the shutdown is taking a heavy toll on House Republicans. According to the Journal, the shutdown eclipsed Obama’s IRS, Benghazi and Syrian scandals, and now has Republicans on the run. For example, in July, Republicans had a 12-point lead with independents. Now Demos lead by nine. And GOP’s favorability rating has dropped by 10 points to 28%.

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