Posted by | September 7, 2010 17:26 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

It really must be 1994 again because Republicans are already discussing shutting the government down on the cusp of overwhelming victories in November. For months, Republicans have discussed their plans to repeal health care reform but they cannot do that without regaining the presidency in 2012. So they have a old new tactic in mind, refusing to fund the new law by using the “power of the purse” with their impending majority in the House.

When Newt Gingrich shut the government down in the 90’s, Tom Delay referred to the decision as “the mistake of his life” in his book No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight. So what makes Republicans think their previously failed strategy will work this time with health care reform? Well, the right-wing spin machine is already preparing for the potential PR battle. “At that point, does he let everything else go?” asked former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican elected in the GOP wave of 1994. “The game will be, does he shut the government down? Republicans can say, ‘We gave him the money to fund other programs’.” In typical Orwellian fashion, the Republicans plan on turning reality on its head and blaming Obama for shutting the government down. Republicans plan to play on the unpopularity of the new health care law, citing that 56% of Americans favor repeal according to the latest Rasmussen poll.

However, while the bill as a whole is not popular, individual elements of the legislation are and will be extremely popular. Republicans will need to explain to the public why they are in favor of health insurance companies regaining the power to deny insurance to children with pre-existing conditions. While Republicans may not be above allowing sick children to die if it helps them regain power, the vast majority of Americans will probably have a problem with that. Furthermore, the strategy of trying to shut the government down already failed once. The American people don’t like the government doing absolutely nothing during times of crisis.

One reason it failed is that President Bill Clinton stood tough, didn’t capitulate to Gingrich’s demands, and watched the noose tighten around the Republicans. And the GOP doesn’t think Obama will hold strong like Clinton did. So, Mr. President, are you man enough to stand up to the big bad Republicans for once?

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