Why have House Republicans pursued their effort to defund, and now to delay, Obamacare so relentlessly, even though they have almost zero chance of success in the face of a rapidly-approaching deadline for shutting down the government? And why have they done so when many in their party have warned that a shutdown would be suicidal for the GOP?
And what about delaying just the individual mandate for a year, as opposed to all of Obamacare? “That’s worthless,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann pointed to a recent Washington Post article which included a long list of government shutdowns in the last 35 years. “We were there 17 times,” she said. “Five times under Jimmy Carter they did a government shutdown. Eight times under Reagan — twice in October before the 1984 landslide. And they didn’t worry about it, they just did it.”
“I was looking at some of the history,” Bachmann continued. “When the Republicans did the slowdown in ’95, they did two, one in November and then one in December. What they were fighting over, the first one, was getting the budget to balance in seven years. And the second one was over Bill Clinton trying to do a sleight of hand — he wanted to use Office of Management and Budget numbers versus Congressional Budget Office numbers. So the Republicans shut the joint down over using OMB numbers over the CBO. My, how times have changed. We’re considered radical to have a ten-year balance under Paul Ryan. We’re going to shut the government down under OMB versus CBO ? That’s what they did then. Now, in my opinion, I don’t think I’d be shutting the government down over that.”
But even then, House Republicans did not suffer terrible consequences, as Bachmann and others point out. After the shutdowns, the GOP was re-elected to control of the House in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004 before losing in 2006.
So Bachmann, and many other Republicans, remain unafraid as the clock ticks down. “I don’t get upset about brinksmanship,” she told me. “That’s what negotiation is. I was a federal tax lawyer. That’s all I did — negotiation. And in negotiation, you usually don’t get anywhere until the final five minutes, and then everybody realizes OK, we’re going to have to break and actually make this thing happen. That’s how negotiation works.”