As a potential government shutdown looms, Republican leaders are doing their best to reframe the situation as not of their making.
"We’re not proposing closing down the government,” said RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer to MSNBC. “What the bill that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans passed last Friday said [was] fully fund the government, every service, except for that piece of Obamacare.”
A GOP-led House budget bill, passed on Friday, is expected to go nowhere in the Senate, setting up the potential for a shutdown if the two sides can't agree on a spending measure before their Sept. 30 deadline.
Spicer's is an argument reiterated by several Republicans, including Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, California Rep. Buck McKeon, and Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon. But it is indeed that last clause--refusing to fund “that piece of Obamacare”--that’s driving the government toward shutdown. As Slate’s David Weigel pointed out, one Republican has already failed to toe the GOP’s cleverly crafted party line.
GOP lost only 3 House seats in '96, first election after taking 54. Ds should have rebounded more. You can argue the shutdown boosted GOP.— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) September 20, 2013
What Stockman’s tweet reveals (in under 140 characters, no less) is that despite attempts to deflect blame onto Senate Democrats, who have already declared any budget bill that derails Obamacare “dead” on arrival, at least some House Republicans are in fact keenly aware of the consequences of their actions, and are banking on their party's ability to survive--or even be “boosted” by--a government shutdown.
If polls are any indication, however, that logic is flawed. According to CNBC poll released Monday, only 19% of respondents said they supported defunding Obamacare if it meant shutting down the government or having the government default on its debts. A wide majority--59%--said they were against shutting down the government to defund Obamacare, which is probably why Spicer and several other Republicans are trying to make it look like that’s not what they’re doing.