Toward April 8

Mike Needham

3/21/2011 12:01:00 AM - Mike Needham

Two years after an historic election, Americans asked for a refund. Unfortunately, the dramatic reversal we witnessed in November merely presented the opportunity for a refund. It was the first victory in a long war for the heart and soul of both our country and the Republican Party.

During the first two years of his presidency, Barack Obama spent more than the first four years of the Reagan administration. It took from our nation’s founding until 1991 to rack up as much cumulative debt as we have in the last two years. Americans expect these newly elected Members of Congress, and those that rode the powerful conservative wave into positions of enormous power, to begin issuing their refund.

Republicans in the House have done an admirable job navigating these unpredictable waters. They swiftly sent a full repeal of Obamacare to the Senate, which was promptly voted down by a Democrat majority determined to ignore the Constitution and the will of the American people.

House Republicans also passed a seven-month continuing resolution that cut $61 billion in spending and blocked funding for a host of terrible policies, including Obamacare. Most conservatives wanted more, and in fairness, so did most of those lawmakers who ultimately voted yes. But, it was a good first step.

This spending measure is only necessary because the previous Congress failed to even try and pass a budget. They made absolutely no progress on appropriation measures. There was no effort by the Democrat-dominated Congress to govern. They simply wanted to pass big-ticket items - Obamacare, cap-and-trade, financial overall, stimulus, etc.

When the results of November became clear, the political strategists advised the Democrats to continue abdicating their responsibility. The political strategists - who were already looking toward the 2012 elections - wanted to make life difficult for the new Republican House. They knew forcing them to handle last year’s business would complicate their agenda and potentially force a government shutdown.

Let me repeat that again: since last November, Democrats and their political strategists have been trying to force Republicans into a government shutdown. It is the Democrats – for political reasons – who are hoping and strategizing for a shutdown.

Think about how this year would have been different if Congress had actually passed a budget and their appropriation measures last year. The continuing resolution skirmish, which has dominated Washington for the past six weeks, would not have occurred. House Republicans would have been free to pursue a full governing agenda, which spending reductions would have obviously been a part of. All without the angst of a government shutdown.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a less than ideal situation because of the Left's politically motivated obstructionism. However, it is also an opportunity that Congress must seize, especially if it is to repair its relationship with the American people.

Americans understand that Democrats control the Senate, and Majority Leader Harry Reid is not only a big-government liberal, but also a partisan political animal who will stop at nothing to ensure Republicans fail.

Americans also understand President Obama has been entirely absent from the debate. As his press secretary said, “it's a hard job.” Sure, we get that. But he was elected because he said he could do the hard things. Americans now understand he cannot even do the little things. His own party is asking him to "engage" on budgetary issues. When 32 Senators from your own party ask you to engage, you have problems.

The President's dereliction of duty is carefully planned though, and most certainly politically motivated. He's biding his time, filling out his NCAA bracket, and waiting for his Senate colleagues to force a shutdown. Then, President Obama will re-emerge and play the role of Washington peacemaker. He'll offend his base by offering some small cuts, he'll bring the "non-fringe" elements of Washington together and declare victory. The President's advisors remember how his popularity grew after the December tax deal, and they are doing their best to replicate that success.

For Senate Democrats and the President, partisan politics is the name of the game.

President Obama and his crew are betting misguided Republican fear over a government shutdown will cause Democrats to win on the politics and the policy. That would be a disastrous turn of events.

What are conservatives and Republicans to do? This week, they need to tell their constituents that the time (if there ever was one) for short-term funding measures has passed. Then, they need to make sure their constituents understand that President Obama and Harry Reid are totally absent from a debate that will shape the country we leave to our grandchildren. By and large, Americans understand Democrats are not acting in good faith. In fact, they're acting in bad faith – and we shouldn't be afraid to say it.