NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The party of government shutdowns is at it again

If there’s one thing you can count on when Repub­li­cans con­trol one part of gov­ern­ment and Democ­rats con­trol the oth­ers, it’s that Repub­li­cans will force a gov­ern­ment shutdown.

We saw it in Con­gress in the fall of 2013 when John Boehn­er shut down the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in an attempt to defund the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act. We saw it in Cal­i­for­nia in the sum­mer of 2008 when Repub­li­cans blocked pas­sage of a state bud­get for near­ly three months past the con­sti­tu­tion­al deadline.

And now we’re see­ing it here in Wash­ing­ton State. Repub­li­cans claim that the prob­lem is with the Democ­rats — but the facts show otherwise.

The party of shutdowns is at it again

This graph­ic, cre­at­ed by a friend of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, shows that the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture has rou­tine­ly had dif­fi­cul­ty reach­ing agree­ment on an oper­at­ing bud­get when the State Sen­ate has been con­trolled by Repub­li­cans, or when Democ­rats had to share con­trol of the State House with Republicans.

For near­ly the last 30 years, the pat­tern is clear. When Democ­rats con­trol both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture and the Gov­er­nor’s office, state bud­gets are com­plet­ed well in advance of the June 30 dead­line. But when Repub­li­cans have par­tial con­trol, whether a 49–49 split in the State House or a nar­row State Sen­ate major­i­ty, they turn to extrem­ist tactics. 

Rather than nego­ti­ate in good faith, they pre­fer to use Democ­rats’ desire for good gov­ern­ment and their aver­sion to hurt­ing peo­ple who would suf­fer from a gov­ern­ment shut­down as lever­age to get their way.

The lessons from Cal­i­for­nia and from Con­gress are clear: the pub­lic needs to be ral­lied to oppose these awful Repub­li­can tac­tics. And at the next elec­tion, vot­ers need to be remind­ed that it’s Repub­li­cans who have a his­to­ry of threat­en­ing shut­downs in Wash­ing­ton State.

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