It is a stupid, false choice to say that the Republicans in the House have either to accept the split-the-difference compromise proposed by the Senate on the Continuing Resolution battle or shut down the entire federal government. Nonsense!
Instead, the Republicans should refuse to accept less than $61 billion in cuts and — if the Senate and Obama refuse — should target for shutdown a handful of specific and highly unpopular programs and agencies. Why shut down the entire government? Zero fund the State Department or Agency for International Development, thereby suspending all foreign aid. Zero fund the Bonds for America program where the feds pick up the local debt service payments for states and cities. Zero fund the Highway construction program. Any combination of some of these cuts can easily generate $61 billion in cuts (less the $10 billion already cut).
The Obama Administration and the Democrats are posing two false choices for the Republican Party and Speaker John Boehner shows every sign of falling into both traps:
1. The Democrats want to pretend that the choice is between a total government shutdown and compromising on the budget cuts. It’s not.
2. They want to sell the notion that you cannot cut the deficit without fundamental changes immediately in Social Security and Medicare. Not true either. Block granting Medicaid and rolling it back to 2008 levels, continuing with cuts in discretionary spending, and limiting deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 troops by 2015 will immediately lower the deficit to less than 4% of GDP from its current perch of 10%. See our book Revolt! for details.
Please! Write your Republican Congressman and ask him or her to stand firm. You got them elected! Don’t let them sell us out on a split-the-difference compromise. Don’t let them tell us that the Democrats can’t find $61 billion of cuts in a $3.7 trillion budget or even in the $750 billion of non-defense discretionary spending. That proposition is laughable.
And tell them not to shut down the government, just shut down the parts we don’t like. If the Democrats want to shut down the government in retaliation, a kind of lock-out in retaliation for a strike, let them be our guests!