We’re all for fiscal conservatism. Clearly, the government spends far too much money, from the military to social programs. In 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama was highly critical of former President George W. Bush’s out-of-control spending as the deficit and national debt exploded. When Obama became president, his tune changed and the debt increased exponentially.
Overspending is a bipartisan epidemic.
Still, shutting down the government and harming our still-fragile economy was the wrong time and place to take a stand. Fellow Republican and heretofore tea party darling Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) said the government shutdown strategy was doomed from the start, calling his colleagues “lemmings with suicide vests.”
It all started with Republicans’ desire to “defund” the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” Most Republicans, including Nunes and Denham, agree on opposition to the health care law. With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as chief spokesman, some Republicans had hoped to use the government shutdown as a way to force the White House and the Senate to “negotiate” on the legislation. The White House rightfully pointed out that shutting down the government to the detriment of all is not negotiating. It’s hostage taking.
The Affordable Care Act is deeply flawed, and the implementation to date is a mess.
But again, as Nunes pointed out, shutting down the government never had a chance of succeeding as a hedge against the health care law. Empty statements and political tantrums seldom work, and they are especially painful when the nation suffers economic consequences. More experienced Republicans in both houses of Congress tried to explain that simple notion to the newer firebrands in the House.
The best way for Republicans to mitigate the president’s health care legislation is to win more elections. Unfortunately, some Republicans in mixed-partisan districts, such as Denham, may have detonated their suicide vests. Further, the Republican “brand” was badly tarnished by Cruz and the “lemmings” in the House. The 2014 mid-term elections will be a good indicator of whether the damage will endure.