For news consumers, there’s no shortage of political news to digest. Between the presidential race and Pope Francis heading to Capitol Hill, there’s never a dull moment.
But let’s not forget that a week from tomorrow, congressional Republicans are quite likely to shut down the government – again.
Late last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who’s championed similar showdowns over government funding and the debt ceiling as part of his far-right agenda, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that it’s Democrats “who are threatening a shutdown.” Rubio’s heard the rhetoric that it’s Republicans who are engaged in brinkmanship.
“No we’re not,” Rubio said. “We are in support of funding the government fully — just not giving any more money to this one organization that was just caught on video dismembering unborn children! Or, in one case, a child that had already been born alive, as Carly did very well last night, outlining and describing the video.”
Putting aside the fact that Fiorina appears to have been lying – a detail Rubio really ought to know – the far-right senator’s broader refrain is a familiar one: in every Republican hostage standoff, GOP lawmakers make roughly the same argument. “Meet our demands or we shoot the hostage,” the pitch goes. “And if you don’t meet our demands, it’s your fault if the hostage gets shot.”
Bloomberg Politics had a good piece this morning on the familiarity of the rhetoric, noting that we heard the same people saying the same thing in 2013.
And by “same people,” I’m being quite literal. Noting Rubio’s 2013 rhetoric, Bloomberg Politics noted, “[T]he very same senator made the very same argument to the very same host two years ago, before Republicans tested the theory by shutting down the government for 16 days in an effort to defund another bete noire.”
“Well, the one who’s threatening to shut down the government is the president and his Democratic allies,” Rubio told Hannity in August 2013, shortly before he helped shut down the government over health care funding. “What they’re basically saying is unless the budget funds Obamacare, they won’t support it. They’re basically saying that unless we fund Obamacare they are willing to shut down the government.”
This is almost word for word what Rubio told Hannity late last week. All one must do is replace “Obamacare” with “Planned Parenthood.”
The difference is, Planned Parenthood is more popular than the Affordable Care Act – making the gambit that much more politically foolish.
In fairness, it’s not just Rubio – all kinds of other far-right politicians on Capitol Hill are pushing the same line. Each of them seem to believe that if they shut down the government, they can avoid blame, just like they said in 2013.
The GOP leadership in both chambers, to their credit, keep trying to tell rank-and-file members that they’ll lose this fight. Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and dozens of House Republicans are choosing not to listen.
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece.