Over the last several weeks, we watched the mainstream media typify the shutdown and near-“default” as the fault of right-wing Republican extremists. In fact, research by the Washington Examiner showed 41 television media outlets blaming only Republicans where as 0 blamed Democrats:
The core claim of the Left is that the Republicans have refused to compromise and “do their job”, causing the supposed crises of the shutdown and near default. The AP and other sources have largely repeated this party line, which can be plainly seen in President Obama’s October 4 weekly address:
As I made clear to them this week, there’s only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached. The Senate has already done this. And there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives willing to do the same, and end this shutdown immediately. But the far right of the Republican Party won’t let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote.
Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now.
The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.
That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won’t pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse.
I’ll always work with anyone of either party on ways to grow this economy, create new jobs, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. But not under the shadow of these threats to our economy.
Pass a budget. End this government shutdown.
Pay our bills. Prevent an economic shutdown.
This rhetoric portrays the Republicans as refusing to “pass a budget” and “pay our bills”, demanding a “ransom in exchange for doing their job”.
As an aside, despite President Obama’s claim otherwise, what Congress did is precisely how our Republic is supposed to work. Which is why, as the former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine opined,
Thanks to our Constitution’s separation of powers, he can’t get action without bargaining with Congress. The presidency and Congress are inextricably linked; one can’t govern without the other.
Obama has ignored this simple truth since he became president. With ObamaCare, he allowed Nancy Pelosi and her liberal Democratic cohort to ram through the most sweeping—and flawed—piece of social legislation in more than four decades without a single Republican vote, guaranteeing that the unpopular law will be challenged for years to come [emphasis added].
Returning to the rhetoric that the Republicans weren’t willing to “pass a budget”, consider this time-line from the National Public Ratio blog. The time-line shows the Republican-controlled house passing three complete budgets before the shutdown all of which were blocked by Democrats and had veto assured by President Obama:
- House Republicans approve legislation that would defund the health care law while keeping the government open through Dec. 15. The White House has already said the president would veto such a measure.
- The Democratic-controlled Senate strips language from the House bill that defunds Obamacare and sends legislation back to the House that keeps the government open through Nov. 15.
- The House passes another spending bill tied to the Affordable Care Act — this time voting to delay implementation of the law for one year and to repeal a medical device tax.
- Senate strips language from the House bill that delays the health law and repeals the medical device tax.
- The House puts forth legislation that delays the health law’s individual mandate for a year and requires members of Congress and their staffs to buy plans on the exchange without subsidies from the government. The Senate rejects that plan as well.
- Shutdown begins. The House stands by its language from the previous day and requests negotiations with the Senate, which the Senate rejects.
- The House begins passing piecemeal funding bills for programs and entities affected by the shutdown, including the national parks and the National Institutes of Health. The Senate refuses any bill that doesn’t reopen the entire government.
I think nearly everyone will agree that NPR is not an extreme, right-wing news source. Yet, the rhetoric in the mainstream media at the time was the same as President Obama’s: the Republicans refused to compromise. For example, this Associated Press article pits establishment Republicans against conservatives while blasting Republicans for not “compromising”:
From county chairmen to national party luminaries, veteran Republicans across the country are accusing tea party lawmakers of staining the GOP with their refusal to bend in the budget impasse in Washington [emphasis added].
The Republican establishment also is signaling a willingness to strike back at the tea party in next fall’s elections.
“It’s time for someone to act like a grown-up in this process,” former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu argues, faulting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and tea party Republicans in the House as much as President Barack Obama for taking an uncompromising stance.
The truth, as NPR’s time-line shows, is that the Republicans compromised and compromised. Who didn’t compromise? Who refused to bend even a little, apparently happy to enter a shutdown that they believed could be blamed entirely on Republicans? (And, who directed the shutdown’s effects to maximize public “pain” and visibility while allowing a demonstration for illegal immigration at the same location World War II vets were turned away “because of the shutdown”?)
Well, this celebratory Daily Kos e-mail shows clearly the answer as the Left tips their hand:
Please add your name to our petition thanking President Obama for his unflinching leadership in averting a national crisis and defeating the tea party. Click here to sign.
Victory is upon us! Republicans have completely folded, agreeing to reopen the government, pay federal employees and extend the debt ceiling while getting absolutely nothing in return [emphasis added].
Credit for this victory belongs entirely to President Barack Obama. Two years ago he vowed to never again negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit, and his refusal to negotiate is why we have emerged victorious today:
More than two years ago, President Obama was still in the thick of his previous showdown with Republican House leaders over the nation’s debt limit when he called five senior advisers into his office. He did not ask their advice, one said. Rather, he told them, in a way that brooked no discussion: From now on, no more negotiating over legislation so basic and essential to the economy, and the country.
“I’m not going through this again. It’s bad for democracy. It’s bad for the presidency,” Mr. Obama said, according to the adviser, who declined to be identified describing internal discussions. The president then told the group — his Treasury secretary, chief Congressional lobbyist, chief economic adviser and both his and the vice president’s chiefs of staff — to spread that word, “even in your body language.”
This is the leadership we have craved for so long. Please, click here to add your name to our petition thanking President Obama for his stalwart leadership in averting a national crisis and defeating the tea party.
Senior Campaign Director, Daily Kos
Read that pride for “refusal to negotiate” and then tell me who is to blame for the shutdown. But, the fight’s not over. One of the best things is the exposure of establishment Republicans who sold out their country like Mitch McConnell, for whom the Daily Kos now is apparently campaigning. I wonder why.