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Another Government Shutdown?

Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer discusses the latest agenda item from House Republicans.

Today the President once again discussed his proposals to boost America’s economic recovery – from rebuilding America’s roads and bridges, to giving businesses incentives to invest, to help for small business. If one sat back and tried to think of the most bipartisan idea the President could possibly propose to boost job creation, it would probably be providing tax breaks for small businesses, and yet even this has been blocked by the partisan Republican minority from even coming up for an up-or-down vote for months.

But for any who thought that blocking even such common sense measures was the limit of how far Republicans in Congress could go in putting partisanship ahead of getting Americans back to work, the Vice Chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign committee (the NRCC) was across town making clear that they were prepared to go much further. While the President was laying out bipartisan solutions to continue creating jobs, this Republican Congressman was rallying his political base in favor of his preferred solution – simply shutting the government down altogether:

Speaking to hundreds of activists gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington for the Faith and Freedom Conference, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) urged the audience to stand with House Republicans when they go toe-to-toe with President Barack Obama. 

Westmoreland said his caucus – presuming it takes control of the House come November – aims to pass spending bills that Obama is likely to veto. He predicted Republicans would not be able to override such a veto, creating a standoff that could cause Congress to grind to a halt. 

“If the government shuts down, we want you with us,” he said. 

The congressman recalled a similar shutdown that took place in 1995, when Newt Gingrich – also a speaker at the conference – was serving as House speaker.

This is far from the first time shutting down the government has been put forth by prominent conservatives.  Newt Gingrich himself has been urging Republicans to follow the strategy laid out above, and Fox News correspondent Dick Morris recently gave a speech  in which he said: "There's going to be a government shutdown just like in '95 and '96, but we're going to win it this time."

We have already heard the head of the same NRCC say “we need to go back to the exact same agenda” they supported during the past 10 years on the economy. And we have heard the House Republican Leader John Boehner promise to push for repeal of Wall Street Reform, allowing huge banks to go right back to the reckless gambling with our economy that led to the crisis the President is leading America out of.

While the President is offering a vision about how to move the country forward and help middle class Americans and small business owners, Republicans in Congress are busy telling partisans and Republican party activists to get prepared for the same stalemate and gridlock they brought the last time they were in charge. The President, like most Americans, is open to hearing new ideas to create jobs and boost the recovery from anybody in any party – unfortunately Americans are not hearing those ideas from Republicans in Congress.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director