The Washington Post says that “Thursday is shaping up to be a critical day for any possible breakthroughs, with a series of key huddles of Republicans and meetings at the White House.”
Just possibly, the not-completely-insane members of the GOP might be looking for some disposable figurehead to blame for getting them into a battle it now seems they won’t win. Dana Milbank interviews “The shutdown’s enforcer-in-chief“:
“Obama will feel pain,” Michael Needham predicted.
Needham looked as though he were angry enough to administer the pain himself. The 31-year-old chief executive of the conservative group Heritage Action gripped his coffee cup tightly with both hands as he spoke to reporters over breakfast Wednesday. When he reached for his water glass, there was a slight tremor in his hand.
But the ones feeling the pain from Needham right now are Republicans. His group, funded by the Koch brothers and anonymous donors, is the one that joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to rally opposition to Obamacare this summer. Together, Cruz and Heritage Action deserve much of the credit for forcing the government shutdown — and Heritage is threatening to use its considerable war chest against Republicans who waver in the effort to abolish the nation’s health-care law….
At the moment, Needham is fighting alongside Republicans. But Heritage Action’s broader goal is to turn the GOP into a “libertarian populist” party freed from Wall Street and K Street. Slate’s John Dickerson asked whether Needham was trying to force a confrontation to induce a “massive crackup of the old order” in the GOP.
“I’m pretty optimistic that it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen pretty soon,” Needham said.
Perhaps. But Needham won’t say who’s contributing to his populist movement or how much, other than the $500,000 from the Kochs. “The laws in this country are such that 501(c)(4)s don’t disclose their donors,” he told the reporters. “If you have a problem with that, you should change the laws.”…
And there’s this, from the AtlanticWire:
Koch Industries, umbrella corporate behemoth for the conservative Koch brothers, sent a letter to members of the Senate on Wednesday disavowing any rumored positions on shutting down the government over the president’s health care law. Even for the controversial and unloved Kochs, it seems, the Republican plan to force a shutdown over Obamacare went too far…
What the Koch letter says is not that the company doesn’t support the push to defund or block Obamacare. (This interesting analysis of why they support stopping the law is worth a read.) It simply attempts to put boundaries on the company’s involvement in those efforts: no lobbying, no support for blocking funding to stop Obamacare. And this applies to Koch Industries — not the Koch brothers who are the ones that cut the checks to Heritage Action and Generation Opportunity.
But the point is taken. Even the deeply unpopular Koch brothers think being associated with the shutdown is risky. And that says more than the letter itself.
Nice outcome for Boehner, Cantor, Ryan — even Cruz and the Koch brothers — if the “stupid, damaging” shutdown can be blamed on a thirty-something staffer who can disappear into the damp depths of wingnut welfare until the public outrage blows over. Mike Needham, an Ed Meese for a new generation!