As the House continues to battle over the 2011 budget, the specter of a government shutdown continues to loom. Although the issue is complicated, and mired in partisan bickering, there's one thing the right-wing media is sure of: No matter how the negotiations go, if the government does shut down, it will be the Democrats' fault. The hyper-partisans who make up the majority of Fox News' schedule have spun like crazy in the past few weeks to make sure you know that Republicans cannot be blamed for any possible government shutdown. However, to make such an argument, the right-wing media has willfully ignored the truth: That GOP obstructionism and the unreasonable demands of tea party-backed GOP House members has thwarted Congress' ability to pass a budget.
For example, the Associated Press reported on Sunday that House Speaker John Boehner "wants the overwhelming majority of [budget] votes to come from his fellow Republicans, even if dozens of easily attainable Democratic votes could help carry the budget bill to victory." The report from the AP made it clear that Boehner is playing partisan politics to protect not only his party's majority in the House, but his own position of power:
Eventually, both parties must decide where to draw the line in negotiations and whether to risk a government shutdown that could trigger unpredictable political fallout.
Some congressional veterans say Boehner is taking the only realistic approach for a speaker who wants to stay in power. If he cuts a deal that relies heavily on Democrats' votes, he could alienate scores of House Republicans, who might in turn start seeking a new leader.
"Not very interested," Boehner told reporters last week when asked about forming a coalition with Democrats to pass the legislation to keep the government operating.
The AP lays bare the split in the Republican party between Boehner and the far-right, tea party members, making the right-wing's portrayal of shutdown as being exclusively the fault of Democrats is even more. Reuters reported in March:
Republicans have proposed cuts of $61 billion in fiscal year 2011 from current levels, a step President Barack Obama says would choke the faltering economic recovery.
But for some in the Tea Party, it is not enough. They say the figure should be at least $100 billion.
"Congressman Boehner, you look like a fool," Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the loosely organized conservative movement's most prominent groups, wrote in a recent blog.
Complaints by Tea Party Republicans have already forced Boehner to almost double the amount of spending cuts proposed this year from $32 billion. The House Republicans passed a bill slashing $61 billion from government programs, from education, environment, health, energy to the humanities and arts.
The right-wing media also seems to have missed the fact that the House Republicans, not Democrats, were distributing a plan on how to handle a shutdown, proving they are in full control of whether or not the government shuts down. In fact, Boehner was considering dropping out of a planned meeting today with President Obama to negotiate on the budget. From Politico:
Republican leaders are preparing the House for a government shutdown, as they plan to distribute a pamphlet about the mechanics of a partial congressional work-stoppage to all lawmakers' offices Tuesday morning, according to several senior House aides.
It's the strongest signal yet that House Speaker John Boehner believes the White House and Congress could fail to strike a deal on a long-term funding bill before the government's authority to spend money runs out on Friday. Talks came to a standstill Monday, amid amplified partisan recriminations.
To illustrate just how tense the situation has become, Boehner (R-Ohio) did not initially commit to a meeting President Barack Obama plans to host at the White House on Tuesday -- the same day House Republicans plan to release their entitlement-slashing budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Boehner's office confirmed late Monday that he will attend but arrive after it starts.
In order to even try to pretend that Democrats were responsible for a government shutdown should one occur, completely ignores the facts of the situations. It has been Republicans being unwilling to compromise and it's been their supporters chanting, "Shut it down!" The right-wing media's stubborn refusal to report the shutdown situation accurately shows that, especially in the case of Fox, their allegiances to the GOP and the tea party, and their refusal to break Reagan's 11th commandment, will continue to be more important than their desire to act as responsible journalists and report the facts.