Government Shutdown

Feeling nostalgic for big budget fights? Do you miss watching House Speaker John Boehner trying to control the Republican caucus? Are you eager for yet another deal that quietly starves government services and weakens the economy? Then you should be in a pretty good mood this morning.

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Conservative Republicans are at it again, threatening to cut off the government’s borrowing authority if they don’t get their way on spending. One reason they get away with such mischief is that they prey upon common misperceptions about the budget—in particular, the widespread sense that nobody in Washington cares about the deficit. The evidence suggests otherwise: The deficit is actually coming down these days. And a huge reason is changes in government policy.

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“House Republicans have no idea how they’re going to lift the debt ceiling this fall,” Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report in Politico. But, they make clear, there’s plenty of brainstorming going on among top GOP brass on what to ask for—in exchange for funding the government to avoid a shutdown, lifting the debt ceiling, and raising spending from sequester levels.

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The Tea Party movement got its start in February, 2009, when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and went on a rant about government bailouts. But the movement didn’t really establish itself as a political force until that August, when conservative activists confronted Democratic lawmakers at town hall meetings across the country, in order to denounce health care reform.

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When we last left the House Republicans, they were balking at bipartisan immigration reform while laboring to cut domestic spending to Neanderthal levels, not merely the Eisenhower-era levels of the sequester.

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