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Speaker Boehner may have best strategy on budget battle after all

Soon after the new GOP-majority House convened in January, this column endorsed endorsed a “selective government shutdown” strategy in which congressional Republicans would pre-emptively prepare the public for what seemed to us an inevitable confrontation over government spending with the new party of “no”, i.e. status quo Democrats.

Like Byron York, we think the political and economic landscape has shifted so dramatically since President Bill Clinton bested Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1995 version of this play, that we fear no shutdown; and, like Hugh Hewitt, we think it best to confront the issue of deficit spending and debt in the context of our domestic affairs rather than debt ceiling vote bluffs.

A month later, we are more convinced that a shutdown is inevitable given President Barack Obama’s “Louis XV budget” head-in-the-sand proposal and especially after ObamaDems have been talking of nothing else but a shutdown. However, we have become convinced that it is not necessary to aggressively pursue such a strategy immediately for a number of reasons.

Just now, the public is transfixed on another epic party-defining battle in Madison, Wisconsin, the images of which create more 2012 tea partier voters everyday the public witnesses elected Democrats fleeing Badger State Troopers for the Illinois border like Bonnie & Clyde after a bank robbery and the public sector unionists that now occupy their space at the State Capitol.

By all means let us get out of the Democrats way and let them bury themselves. No need to distract from free advertising when Speaker of the House John Boehner can issue a two-week continuing resolution that includes all of spending cuts that the President proposed in a vehicle that requires no compromises on the part of conservatives.

But the day is coming when the Drive-by media will film the crocodile tears of youngsters unable to see Old Faithful at Yellowstone and the GOP needs to prepare for it, because any compromise that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would agree to in conference in conference and that the president would sign, would be a betrayal of last November’s biggest Republican election  since 1948.

I now think that the Speaker’s strategy of being hard on spending cuts but soft on any desire for a shutdown can be effective and that it may well be better if the day of reckoning is later in the year. It could well work to our advantage to spread out the misery for Obama. Right now, he sees the possibility of a lifetime of union community organizing for funding Democratic party campaigns going down the tubes at the hands of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:

“I just finished eight years as county executive in Milwaukee last December,” he told me during a telephone interview. “I’ve dealt with unions and angry legislators. I know anytime you challenge the status quo you have to be bold—and take the heat.”…the proposal would require that public-employee unions be recertified annually by a majority vote of all their members, not merely by a majority of those who cast ballots. The bill would also end the government’s practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. “If workers have freedom of choice on their own dues money and a real voice in their union,” the governor says, “they may get better representation.”

Had House Republicans had the guts of Walker, they would have added de-fundings of total ObamaCare, NPR, CPB, and the Legal Services Corporation to the aborting of Planned Parenthood. But they can still redeem themselves if they will listen to We the People as the Speaker promised. So far, tea partiers have moved Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) even further  to the right on a number of spending cut issues and the way is clear for conservatives to own the economic issue going in to the 2012 election.

The GOP must resist compromises that would let the Democrats off the accountability hook. One reason for the massive 2010 victory was GOP unity in 2008-9 against most all of the ObamaDem agenda. That same kind of unity these next two years can give conservatives control of all of the levers of power to truly reverse the Big Government slouching towards Gomorrah.

Moreover, with the oil-rich Middle East in turmoil and gasoline prices on the rise even more rapidly than they already were before Mubarak fell in Cairo, the GOP should float a proposal naming the price for either avoiding a shutdown or for ending it once it starts: ObamaDems will stop their 30+ year incremental shutdown of the domestic oil and coal industries and consequent attack on the poor, middle class and national security, and we’ll let some of their meddling regulators collect their severance pay.

Mike DeVine

Legal Editor – The Minority Report

Atlanta Law & Politics columnist for

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

More DeVine Gamecock rooster crowings at Modern ConservativeHillbilly Politics, and Conservative Outlooks. All Charlotte Observer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-eds archived at

6 Responses to Dr. Gridlock or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Government Shutdowns

  • BB-Idaho says:

    Dwight Eisenhower, 1954:
    “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. ” ..the last decent Republican and if they
    hadn’t swung so far right, I’d still be one.

  • Mike gamecock DeVine says:

    Public sector labor laws and Medicare did not exist in 1954. The policies of Ike led to 40 years of Democrat control of Congress and the massive expansion of the welfare state. Reagan was for a safety net for the truly needy that better emulated the minimal temporary income supplements that FDR created. What we are dealing with now is the bankruptcy of Soc Sec after a long run that expanded benefits too far and a Medicare that distorts the market and drives up prices. So was it Reagan that swung the GOP to the right when he saved Soc Sec with Tip O’Neal? You will have to be more specific than a quote from 56 years ago.

  • BB-Idaho says:

    Your argument is with Eisenhower. As for Reagan, I’d think you would agree he swung the country to the right. I’m where I have been for 70 years. BTW, the concensus of academics has Ike at 8th and Reagan and 17th. But, I suspect you have no faith in those that teach. As for SS, I would posit that the widow at
    $500 a month is less of a problem than the fiscal
    shenanigans which used SS taxes and general revenue as well as the demographic problem of
    extended lifespans and cycles like the baby boomers.
    And yes, I give Reagan credit for stepping in to keep the system viable. As for blaming market distortion on the customer, well now, there’s a new one.

  • Mike gamecock DeVine says:

    I doubt we are far apart then and I would agree that there are only a sliver of repubs that want to “abolish” the safety net but the dems and media regularly characterize any change that reduces benefits or gives individuals any control, however minor, as “abolishing.” same. Not sure what Ike as 8 and Reagan as 17 (in what I don’t know) has to do with the wisdom of certain policies. I would point out that both were re-elected in landslides.

    Yes, there is no lock box and that was a crime.

    Haven’t a clue what you mean about “no faith in those that teach.” To what do you refer?

    Good discussion.

  • Bruce says:

    So Ronald Reagan saved Social security……….I am amazed at how much credit Ronald Reagan is always given by conservatives………..RR did campaign on a pledge to “preserve social security”…….the original plan he put together was blasted by Tip O’Neil who said of the original Reagan plan “It is a rotten thing to do. It is a despicable thing.” After that plan was shot down in the senate, then a bipartisan commission led by Alan Greenspan was put together…….. they came up with the plan that was finally put into place…and that plan raised social security taxes….which will be the simple solution to the problem now…….If the social security tax cut off limit of $106K was taken away the problem would go away….I think it is a plan Ronald Regan just might like………..

    Black In America Baby…..The revolution has been televised……

  • Mike gamecock DeVine says:

    Bruce, you make good points. I am of two minds on this as a conservative but maybe also as former Dem like Reagan. Despite all Soc Sec problems, a 75 year run for any policy is a pretty good run and to remain popular. We all are happy Grandma had money. But I also know that while Reagan wanted to save Soc Sec, the way he would have done it with a conservative congress would have been very different I am sure. I am sure he would not have favored raising that regressive tax.

    more later

February 2011


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