Yesterday, Politico published the House Freedom Caucus “questionnaire” which it described as pushing for “House rule changes.” The document does do that. But it also does a lot more. It seeks substantive commitments from the next speaker that would effectively send the entire country into a tailspin…..
The government will run out of money on December 11. Unless additional funding is approved before that date, the government will shut down.
The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy whichprompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. This would now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker Of The House.
The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health)
Just as a reminder, the House Freedumb Caucus is roughly 40 Congress critters who hold the balance of power as long as the rest of the House Republicans believe that maintaining in-group norm of only passing major legislation with only Republican votes is worthwhile. They are the power bottoms of the House GOP caucus.
But they are not intrinsically crazy if the goal of the Freedumb Caucus is to both protect their own ass and make it less likely for a Democrat to be elected to the White House in 2016. Extraordinarily destructive and cynical, yes, but they are not completely crazy.
The first goal of assuring their own re-election for most of the HFC is achieved if they can get out of the Republican primary. Right now the Republican primary electorate is extremely pissed at the “Establishment” Republicans as those Republicans have overpromised and under-delivered (ie they could not repeal Obamacare nor impeach Obama for making them think that he would take away all of their guns due to the Democrats controlling some veto points against maximalist Republican goals). Being a Republican who the Establishment (2nd DW dimension positive) hates is a good thing in the Republican primary in R+5 or redder districts. The few HFC in D+0 or bluer districts can only win in waves or due to local idiosyncratic circumstances. They’re irrelevant as long as the rest of the HFC controls the 218th vote.
This is fairly straightforward playing to the base.
Now the second contention that I’ll make that the HFC demands for a shutdown or default or far more likely large contractionary policies increases the odds of a Republican being elected is pure political science cynicism.