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The Passion Deficit

From the diaries by Jeff. No “Mute” button here – this is very important.

Now comes news that House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) is refusing to commit that the Pence amendment to defund Planned Parenthood will be in the final version of the bill which will fund the government for the rest of the year -– the “long-term continuing resolution.”

This, despite the fact that Planned Parenthood, which performs 324,000 abortions a year, could, according to some insiders, collapse if denied the $350 million it annually receives in taxpayer dollars.

So, given a Schindler’s list with 324,000 names, why would anyone who believes the unborn are human beings not move heaven and earth to protect them?

Said Cantor: “…we’re trying to demonstrate right now that we don’t want to see a [government] shutdown…”

Really!

In fact, the House had, weeks earlier, passed its version of a resolution to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year –- until September 30, 2011. If government funding is not yet guaranteed -– if a shutdown has not been rendered impossible — it is because Harry Reid and Barack Obama refuse to consider the House’s resolution because it contains provisions unacceptable to them, such as defunding ObamaCare.

But hold on a minute: Cantor and his colleagues campaigned on the promise that they would repeal ObamaCare –- or at least defund it.

And, if the criterion of Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is the avoidance of any issue that will trigger an Obama veto, then they have raised the white flag before the battle has even begun:

  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill (or resolution) that defunds ObamaCare. That Republican promise will be a lie if the criterion is acceptability to Barack Obama.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill reducing American abortions by 324,000 a year.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill containing the Boren-Rehberg amendment to prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms from creating a new illegal gun registry of multiple gun sales.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill blocking the EPA’s efforts to tax and regulate carbon dioxide by regulatory fiat.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill blocking the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to regulate the Internet with no statutory authority.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill creating a regulatory “fairness doctrine.”
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill blocking the National Labor Relations Board from implementing CardCheck without Congress’s permission.
  • Obama won’t easily sign a bill cutting spending by the $100 billion (or $61 billion) Republicans promised in the campaign.

But guess what?

If there is NO bill -– IF CONGRESS DOES NOTHING — all of these good things will happen AUTOMATICALLY.

So why would anyone other than a fool and a coward not want to shut the government down?

Well, they will say, Gingrich shut down the government during the 104th Congress –- and paid a political price.

Not really.

In the first place, Republicans lost fewer than 10 seats in the 1996 elections and retained control of the House and Senate. In exchange, the GOP got a welfare reform bill and a budget which ultimately produced a surplus. And the Gingrich shutdown was not animated by a resounding popular goal, such a defunding ObamaCare.

But more important, the polls didn’t show that the public opposed the shutdown. Rather, Gingrich’s numbers dropped when he chickened out. The American people don’t dislike heroes who stand for principle; they dislike cowards.

But, okay.

Lets assume that the iconography that Republicans can’t provoke a government shutdown is unassailable. Here’s an idea: Pass a separate bill to continue the popular functions of the federal government, even if there is no appropriations (or no debt limit).

Worried that new Social Security applicants can’t receive checks? Include it in that bill.

VA benefits? Include them.

Entrance to national parks and the Smithsonian? Yep, them too.

Passports? You betcha.

All of this would be a temporary statutory supplement to the Antideficiency Act and the agency protocols. And it would contain every unassailable sacred cow in the budget.

It would be passed, not because there are not preexisting rules on what stays open, but because Republicans want to make it clear that Congress makes those determinations when it wants to.

Let Harry Reid block that –- or Barack Obama veto it.

For months now, we’ve been getting a song-and-dance that ObamaCare can’t be repealed because Obama has a veto.

But both House and Senate Republicans have a veto too. They have a veto over everything Barack Obama wants to do for the remainder of his term.

If Obama is willing to exercise his veto -– but House Republicans are not –- what does that tell you?

We are now in a situation where the only way Republicans can lose -– the only way ObamaCare can NOT be defunded –- is if House and Senate Republicans choose to lose.

What sort of cowards would choose to lose a transformational battle such as this? And what sort of idiot would reelect them?

by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.

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