Oh hey, by the way, the government is about to shut down

We’re now officially one week away from yet another government shutdown. This time it will be over defunding Planned Parenthood, which is the big new Republican idea because shutting down Planned Parenthood would mean that they’ve succeeded in their long-time goal of depriving poor and working class women of access to basic healthcare uh, stopping abortions somehow. Republican leadership in Congress seems to have no desire either for another shutdown or for defunding PP, but Republican leadership long ago lost control over its party, and this time the push for a shutdown is being led by the party’s presidential candidates, who no doubt are relishing the chance to do some electioneering over this whole mess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a grand plan to “prove” to his caucus that he doesn’t have the votes to defund PP, at which point he envisions that they’ll all accept that and rationally vote in favor of a clean continuing resolution that will keep the government open long enough to pass a long-term budget. I would never have suspected that Mitch McConnell was a regular peyote user, but this seems like pretty good evidence that he is. And even if this fantasy scenario did come to pass, the CR would still have to get through the House, which it probably won’t do unless Speaker John Boehner is willing to pass it with Democratic help. If he does that, he may be looking at a movement in his caucus to unseat him from the Speakership, which would probably fail but, hey, you never know.

There seems to be an emerging consensus that there will be a short shutdown so that the extremists can claim victory, followed by a clean CR that keeps the government open into December. But are the extremists really going to be happy with a brief shutdown? And even if they are, doesn’t this plan just mean we’ll just be scheduling another shutdown for right before Christmas? I only ask because, you know, contrary to Republican propaganda the people who work for the federal government are real people who depend on their government paycheck to get by. If these shutdowns are going to be a regular annual or semi-annual event, because one of our two parties has utterly abandoned any pretense of responsible governance, then I think the federal government needs to start offering some kind of shutdown/temporary unemployment insurance to its employees.

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