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Opinion

If the GOP were planning a government shutdown, we'd know about it

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Marco Rubio,Ted Cruz,Mike Lee,Steve King,Government Shutdown,Becket Adams

Democrats have all but exhausted their extraordinarily lucrative impeachment-themed fundraising gimmicks, so they've moved on to a new scare tactic leading up to the midterm elections: Accuse Republicans of plotting to shut down the government – again.

But this claim just simply isn't true.

Indeed, aside from a hollow threat from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and a terribly misconstrued quote from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., there is nothing to suggest that the Republican Party is actually conspiring to shut down the government.

And despite the fact that the question of whether Republicans are planning a shutdown has already been addressed by the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, revealing that the story is mostly nonsense, Democrats and a sympathetic media continue to play up the story, creating headlines about how the GOP is possibly going for a repeat of last year's failed – and unpopular – ploy to block President Obama's agenda.

But the fact of the matter is that even if York hadn't investigated the claim, it should be obvious that the GOP has no big plans to shut down the government. Why? Because unlike the 2013 shutdown, GOP lawmakers are not talking about bringing the government to a screeching halt.

It's that simple.

Remember: When Republican lawmakers played the shutdown game in 2013, which started with votes to defund the Affordable Care Act, they did an excellent job advertising the issue, going on television and radio to explain the strategy. There were social media campaigns and there were multiple, in-depth press interviews. Republicans were not coy about the ploy, the American public knew it was coming and the press reported accordingly.

But now, with just a few passing comments that have already been clarified by GOP lawmakers and their staffers, we're supposed to believe that Republicans have a plan to shut down the government? Even Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who led the fall 2013 defund effort, emphatically declared on Saturday that, "There is one person, and one person only, talking about a government shutdown, and that is the White House.”

Which is more likely: That Republicans have a devilishly secret plan that they've managed to hide from the world or that this story is the product of Democratic strategists looking to raise money and ding the GOP ahead of the November midterm elections?

Given that Republicans have long struggled with the concept of discretion, the likelihood that they have a plan to shut down the government and we don't know about it seems, well, unbelievable. It's far more likely that today's shutdown headlines are the product of clever political strategists and a press eager for original content and readership.

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