How to Avoid Blame for a Shutdown
A guide for House Republicans


Deroy Murdock

No matter how a government-shutdown scenario unfolds, one thing is a given: Democrats and their leftist pals will blame Republicans for padlocking Washington, D.C. Never mind that President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi could not have been bothered to enact a budget last year, when they held the levers of power. Seven months into fiscal year 2011, the absence of a budget has necessitated the six stopgap funding measures that have financed the government since October 1.

Months ago, the GOP House sent the Senate a full-year budget that it could have adopted. The Senate also could have passed its own spending measure, which it could have reconciled with the GOP’s plan in conference committee. Alas, the Senate has done nothing of the kind. Apparently, Reid has other, more pressing priorities, such as fighting for federal cowboy-poetry subsidies.

In short, Republicans are cleaning up the Democrats’ mess and simultaneously taking unfair heat for supposedly making it in the first place.

And the word “mess” hardly describes the filth that the Left will hurl at Republicans if the government shuts down. Here is one way to avoid that situation.

Assuming the House of Representatives adopts a continuing resolution to fund Uncle Sam for another week, the Republican leadership should not use the usual low-key staff members of the House bill clerk’s office to transmit to the Senate that actual “engrossed bill,” as it technically is called.

Instead, the physical engrossed bill should be hand-carried to the Senate by House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Budget chairman Paul Ryan, the GOP leadership, and the entire Republican caucus. They should march solemnly to the Senate with TV cameras rolling. Their lenses, plus radio microphones and the dozens of pens of print and Internet journalists, will capture Republicans doing their part to keep the government open.

Once they cross the U.S. Capitol and reach the Senate, Boehner and company can hand the engrossed bill to the Senate staffer who is designated to receive it.

Immediately thereafter, Boehner, Cantor, and other members of the House’s GOP high command should speak into the cameras and say: “The Republican-led House of Representatives now has done everything within its power to keep the American people’s government open to preserve their freedoms and protect their security. We now respectfully call upon our Senate colleagues to keep the government open and ready to serve their urgent needs.”

This Republican procession and statements such as that above would provide dramatic, vivid, and powerful audio and video to build a counter-narrative to the Left’s withering attacks. If the government closes, that onslaught will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and continue during and long after any shutdown.

This communications effort should be very easy to organize and should not cost taxpayers a penny to execute. Indeed, given its ability to strengthen the GOP’s hand, this little event ultimately could save taxpayers trillions.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.


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