Good News: Conservative Republicans Debate Another Government Shutdown...

Daniel Doherty

11/21/2013 12:20:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

An off-the-record meeting was held on Wednesday with some conservative members of the Republican Party. The topic du jour? Should Republicans shut down the government again in January when the (latest) continuing resolution expires? Gulp:

Conservative leaders from more than a dozen outside groups warned congressional Tea Party Caucus members against another government shutdown.

A heated discussion broke out Wednesday at a closed-door Tea Party Caucus meeting organized by the group TheTeaParty.net, according to a source in the room.

The consensus in the meeting was that House Republicans should work to avoid another government funding fight when current funding levels expire on Jan. 15 — “though there was a vocal minority cheering it on,” according to an attendee who was not authorized to speak about an off-the-record meeting.

The pro-shutdown contingent said that a second shutdown fight could be won with better GOP messaging.

The current continuing resolution funding the government runs through Jan. 15, and the leaders of both parties have vowed to work together to agree on a longer-term budget deal. Absent a budget deal or another continuing resolution, the government could be poised for another shutdown.

I’ve written about this before; partially shutting down the government again strikes me as the most asinine thing Republicans could possibly do. Let me explain why. Congressional Democrats up for re-election are desperately clinging and frantically searching for a life preserver. And if they’re not, well, they darn well should be. Day after day reports surface not only about how bad Obamacare is as a matter of public policy, but the implementation process itself -- and at times the administration’s hilarious incompetence on full display -- is an electoral game-changer. Why would Republicans want to interfere with the Democrats’ epic implosion? As someone somewhere once said, “Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.” In other words, don’t give Democrats a punch line the media can run with -- “GOP obstructionists are shutting down the government again!” Let them squirm in the wind for the next twelve months.

In Republicans’ defense, however, the vast majority of conservatives seem to be with me. They understand that experimenting with admirable yet ultimately unhelpful tactics is counter-productive. The pro-shutdown caucus, meanwhile, assures all of us that another shutdown adventure can be successful -- that is, if Republicans stay focused and on-message. But that’s a mighty big if given recent history.

Stay the course, Republicans. Leverage what little power you have by getting the best budget deal possible in 2014. Remember, the only way to really implement bold, conservative reforms at the federal level is by winning elections. That’s ultimately where power rests: with the people. Shutting down the government, then, would impede that effort by unnecessarily angering voters looking to embrace Republicans in 2014. That would be a mistake.