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Opinion: Democrats are trying to claim credit for the impending shutdown. Let them

I still like to think of myself as a young-ish guy, even if I recently removed “30-something conservative” from my blog tag line. (I’m not 40 yet. But I will be soon. Stop asking when.)  

But even I’m old enough to remember when refusing to fund the government because you wanted to extract unrelated policy goals from the other party was considered tantamount to terrorism. From Time, all the way back in 2013:

In the latest escalation in the Obama administration’s war of words with congressional Republicans, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer compared the GOP to terrorists in an interview on CNN Thursday. ‘We are for cutting spending. We are for reforming out tax codes, reforming (our) entitlements,’ Pfeiffer told Jake Tapper. ‘What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest. We’re not going to do that.’

“President Barack Obama and aides have repeatedly called out Republicans for attempt to ‘extort’ and ‘blackmail’ the administration into cutting funding for the Affordable Care Act as part of a deal to keep the government funded into October. But the metaphors have rarely broached the boundaries of terrorism.”

Back to the present. House Republicans on Thursday approved another continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded for a few more weeks while longer-term negotiations continue, along with a six-year re-authorization of the children’s health-care program known as CHIP that folks on both sides of the aisle in Washington and state capitals have been calling for. But Senate Democrats want you to know they are keeping that bill from passing because they want to tack on an immigration measure unrelated to the budget. From the Associated Press:

A bitterly divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported.”

“Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that cleared the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure but exposing themselves to charges they are responsible for a looming shutdown.”

While it’s unusual for the media to cast a shutdown as the fault of Democrats, it’s important to note Democrats themselves are claiming responsibility for this. Consider the phrasing here:

Note: It’s a “senior Democratic aide” who says “Democrats have enough votes to block” the legislation and “prevent Republicans from keeping the government up and running.”

There should be no lack of clarity about what’s going on here.

And why? Not for anything about spending, taxes or entitlements -- all of which have the benefit of being related to the budget. No, they are holding fast to get a deal on DACA, which doesn’t relate to the budget and doesn’t expire until March anyway. So Democrats are willing to force a shutdown, including the continued delay for nearly 9 million kids on CHIP, to get a deal for 700,000 DACA recipients a couple of months earlier than necessary.

Now, I’m not calling Democrats terrorists for doing this. I’m just reminding everyone that’s what they called Republicans when the GOP did pretty much the same thing over four years ago.

Republicans were holding a bad hand back then, and played it even more poorly. Democrats seem intent on doing the same now. They shouldn’t get away with shifting the blame later.

About the Author

Kyle Wingfield
Kyle Wingfield
Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.