The federal government will not run out of money until October 1, but new House majority whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) has already announced Republicans’ intention to surrender to President Obama and the Democrats on the issue of rising debt and continuous deficit spending.
Scalise, described by host Chris Wallace as a “tea-party favorite,” announced on Fox News Sunday that the GOP will not play spending hardball this fall, instead boasting that House Republicans have actually been more eager than the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass spending bills.
“The government runs out of money on October 1,” Wallace asked Scalise. “Will you support a continuing resolution to keep the government going at current levels; or are you willing, in an effort to cut spending, to risk another government shutdown?”
“We’re going to keep the government running at current levels,” Scalise responded. “In fact, we’ve passed a majority of the spending bills out of the House already. Not one of them’s been taken up by the Senate. But look, shouldn’t the Senate at least be able to agree a bill to fund our troops? That’s a bill that got over a hundred Democratic votes when it passed out of the House.”
“But no government shutdown?” Wallace asked.
The federal government experienced a partial shutdown of non-essential services in October 2013, which had no negative impact on the well-being of the vast majority of Americans and did not even hurt the finances of federal employees, who were all paid in full for the time they were (officially) not working. Nevertheless, the shutdown was given non-stop media coverage, which frightened conservatives. Republicans remain extremely sensitive to the mainstream media’s narrative that previous shutdowns and “fiscal cliff”–style showdowns severely damaged the GOP’s election prospects, though there is virtually no evidence that previous shutdowns damaged the economy and there seems to have been no polling in the last nine months to indicate whether voters even remember the 2013 shutdown, let alone consider it a front-burner issue.
Although the vocabulary of budgeting includes terms such as “continuing” and “current levels,” federal budgets are based on baseline budgeting, which assumes regular increases in spending and treats any reduction to the rate at which spending increases as a “cut.”