The money and planning behind the government shutdown


by David Safier

Today's NY Times article, A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning, isn't so much news as confirmation of what we already knew. The federal shutdown has been planned for months. It's a heavily funded, last ditch effort to wipe out Obamacare before people begin using it. They know any efforts after January 1 will be too late.

To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.


The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

The article is filled with details, including the dual efforts to get young people to refuse to sign up, which would harm the revenue needed to keep the program viable, and to get the elderly — meaning people on Medicare who don't participate in Obamacare — angry enough to turn out for Republican candidates in large numbers.

The power these well-funded astroturf groups have given to the Tea Party minority in the Republican party is astounding.

Heritage Action ran critical Internet advertisements in the districts of 100 Republican lawmakers who had failed to sign a letter by a North Carolina freshman, Representative Mark Meadows, urging Mr. Boehner to take up the defunding cause.

“They’ve been hugely influential,” said David Wasserman, who tracks House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “When else in our history has a freshman member of Congress from North Carolina been able to round up a gang of 80 that’s essentially ground the government to a halt?”

The money has turned insignificant back benchers into heroes of the far right. They look like they're bringing the Republican establishment to its knees when they're simply front men for the big money controlling the Republican agenda.


  1. We need to start calling this what it is: a privately funded coup attempt. They are explicitly trying to overthrow the US government, and we should treat it as the crime it is.

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