Imagine if a foreign government or some terrorist group were to hack into the U.S. government’s computers and bring all of its operations to a halt. Everyone in the country would be outraged.
That is the scenario we are facing this week — except that the “hack” that is threatening to shut down our government is not originating from some outside source, but rather is coming from an anarchist group of about 15 Republican members of Congress who are refusing to approve a budget by the October 1 deadline.
There have been government shutdowns in the past, most memorably those engineered by Republican Speakers of the House (Newt Gingrich and John Boehner), but those had clear lines of demarcation about competing visions of federal spending between the Republicans and the Democratic presidents (Clinton and Obama) at the time.
But the small group of Republicans who want to shut down the government today not only lack the support of the Republican leadership and their colleagues, but they also do not have any identifiable objectives.
A lot of the blame for this debacle lies with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had worked out a deal with President Biden and the Democrats in June regarding the debt ceiling that also encompassed the budget for the coming fiscal year.
However, McCarthy is being held hostage by these renegade members of his own party because of their threat to remove him from the speakership if he brings the budget to the floor for a vote — and thus far, McCarthy has placed his political survival over keeping the government open.
About the only defense for McCarthy’s fecklessness is that he himself recognizes that trying to reach an agreement with this group is a fruitless task: “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” McCarthy said last week.
The bottom line is that every American, thanks to the inept Republican leadership, is subject to the whims of a group of about 15 Republican members of Congress whose only real goal can best be described as a desire to bring about total chaos and anarchy to every corner of our country.