Dan Holler

Few places in the world function (and I use that term loosely) like Washington, DC.

“Washington loves to play this game of saying something can’t be done,” Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham told C-SPAN’s Newsmakers. “Politicians like to set expectations as low as possible so they can’t help but trip over them.”

Would Apple have rehired Steve Jobs if he’d explained why the company could not compete with Windows? Would colonists have taken up arms against the British if George Washington said victory was impossible? Would nearly 15 million first-time voters have pulled the lever for Barack Obama in 2008 had he explained what he couldn’t do?

Managing expectations may be a conventional political strategy, but it doesn’t inspire the American people and it won’t produce the type of sweeping policy victories that are necessary to save the country.

A reporter with deep ties to House Republican leaders characterized the ongoing debate over Obamacare as “a wink-wink kabuki dance of the highest order.” According to this reporter, an anonymous leadership aide promised Republicans “want to protect the American people from Obamacare.” Instead of putting forward a strategy – you know, leading – this leadership aide simply offered, “no one seems to [be] able to explain how we win a shutdown fight.”

House Republicans have been in this position before, of course. In 2011, they were faced with one government shutdown threat after another because the Pelosi-Reid Congress didn’t even try to pass their annual spending measure.

Throughout that debate, President Obama and many others attempted to blame Republicans and conservatives for a would-be shutdown. "Is this a political weapon we are handing our political adversaries? Of course it is," new House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) acknowledged. "But there's going to come a time in this country where we're going to have to stop thinking about that and do what we really think is right."

In 2011, the right thing to do was to fight for spending cuts – the cuts Republicans promised the American people in their 2010 Pledge to America. House Republicans didn’t have the entire legislative process scripted, and it would have been foolish of them to have even tried.

No one could have scripted a budget fight that caused Harry Reid to call House Republicans “mean-spirited” because their bill would have eliminated funding for Nevada’s “cowboy poetry festival.” By the end of it all, the so-called partisan bickering saved American taxpayers $30 billion or so.

Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.