According to the dominant news media, we all should be worried about a possible shutdown of the federal government next week because House Republicans and Sen. Ted Cruz want to fund all of the government except Obamacare.
Let me say that again. A group of Republicans in the House and a handful of Republican senators are being blamed for a shutdown of government because they propose to fund all of government except for Obamacare. And they are the ones forcing a shutdown. Right?
Please, explain that again! If Congress passes a budget that finances all of government except Obamacare, and the president vetoes that bill, the resulting shutdown is the fault of Republicans?
That, my friends, is the logic of Orwellian doublespeak. And therein lies the real problem. We have a problem not with the budget debate but with how we allow the liberal media to frame the budget debate – and every other policy debate as well.
This argument over funding Obamacare is a perfect illustration of the power of the progressive media to define the issues and limit our choices. Half the Republicans in Congress – and probably in Denver and Albany and Sacramento as well – are afraid to open the newspaper each morning.
We’ve been here before with the federal budget debate. We saw two brief shutdowns in the ’80s under Reagan and another one in the ’90s under Clinton. In each case, when the dust settled, all government workers got full paychecks. No federal employee ever lost a single dollar of salary. Everyone went back to work, and the government kept growing, same as before the manufactured “crisis.”
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Now, in case you are confused about it, this impending shutdown has nothing to do with the sequester. The sequester is, of course, the law of the land, part of a compromise plan agreed to in 2011 when we saw a confrontation over raising the debt ceiling. The sequester requires annual automatic reductions in spending that will happen each year until a better plan is adopted. Those automatic reductions are supposed to be so painful that it forces members of Congress to agree on a more rational budget reduction.
Well, we can see how well THAT compromise with the Obama White House worked out. The sequester is still with us, and a more rational plan for long-term spending reduction is as far away as ever.
Why are we in this budget mess? Is it because Republicans have refused to compromise on spending cuts? No. Republicans have agreed to a series of “budget compromises” over the last 40 years, since 1982. That was when President Reagan agreed to TEFRA, the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsible Act.” That beautiful compromise was a whopping and immediate tax increase on the promise by Democrats to enact “two dollars of spending cuts for each dollar of tax increase.” The result? The tax increase went into effect but the promised spending cuts didn’t happen.
So, who can blame anyone for being skeptical of Obama’s proposal to “tax now, cut later,” which is STILL the Democrat plan for repealing the sequester and adopting another compromise budget.
Here is what the mainstream media is not telling the American people about the budget battles in Congress: There is no budget congressional Democrats will support that actually reduces federal spending. They are willing to negotiate only the rate of increase in spending, not a reduction in spending.
At bottom, the current showdown is not an argument over Obamacare. It is an argument over the “inevitability” of the growth of government and a test of the credibility of representative democracy.
If you believe the progressive media and the Democrat mantra, the growth of government cannot be reversed. In their eyes and in their lexicon, the only permissible debate is over the rate of growth of government, not its direction. Repealing Obamacare would be an admission that the growth of the federal government can be reversed. To the progressives in Congress and their allies in the media, that is heresy of the highest order.
This is obviously not only a federal issue. Governors and state legislators also have a stake in this battle. Republican governors should have been at the Capitol cheering on Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, but they are strangely silent. When I am governor of Colorado, that will change.
I salute and applaud Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and the House conservatives who are willing to wage this fight to defund Obamacare. These noble patriots are willing to incur the wrath of the New York Times, the scorn of John McCain and the ridicule of Republicans who are always willing to fight the next battle, but not this one.
Welcome to the club.