Shutting Down Over Healthcare

| Mon Sep. 20, 2010 11:33 AM EDT

Apparently Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is demanding that the GOP leadership sign a "blood oath" to include repeal of healthcare refrom in every single appropriations bill next year, even if it leads to a government shutdown. This is nothing surprising coming from King, who's a famous loon, but Steve Benen says it's yet more evidence that the prospect of a government shutdown is real, not just a Democratic scare tactic to motivate the troops:

This really isn't manufactured drama — much of the Republican Party is intent on making this happen. It's why talk of a shutdown is already being pushed by a House Republican leader (Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia); a Republican Senate candidate (Joe Miller of Alaska); a Republican House candidate (Teresa Collett of Minnesota); and a variety of prominent Republican voices (Newt Gingrich, Dick Morris, and Erick Erickson).

It's not theater; it's not posturing; it's not an idle pre-election threat. Voters should appreciate how serious this is before heading to the polls.

I dunno. Steve may be right that the threat is real, but I think I'd still put my money on any shutdown over healthcare reform being shortlived. The problem for Republicans is that it would give President Obama a perfect soapbox for talking endlessly about all the benefits of ACA, and the drama of a shutdown means that plenty of people would actually be listening. So not only would Republicans look petulant and childish if they repeatedly passed bills that either failed in the Senate or got vetoed, but Obama would spend the entire time talking about how he'll never let the Republican Party take away your right to insurance even if you have a preexisting condition. And he'll never let them take away the small business tax credits. And he'll never let them reinstitute the doughnut hole. Rinse and repeat.

Not only would Republicans lose the showdown, but they'd quite possibly end up making ACA popular for the first time in its existence. I suspect the saner elements of the GOP leadership are pretty well aware of this. They might feel like they have to make a pro forma effort to repeal healthcare reform, but if they shut down the government I think they'll pick a different excuse.