Fox News Covers For Republicans' Government Shutdown Attempt

Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

Fox & Friends dishonestly claimed that President Obama would be fully responsible for a government shutdown, despite the fact that House Republicans have tied the government's funding to defunding the new health care law, a plan that other Republicans have dismissed as unworkable.

On October 1, much of the federal government will shut down if Congress is unable to pass a measure allowing them to pay for past spending. The Hill reported that House Republicans were insisting on defunding the president's health care law in exchange for keeping the federal government open:

The House on Friday is poised to approve a stopgap spending bill that strips out funding for President Obama's signature healthcare law.

The continuing resolution, pushed by Republican leaders at the behest of conservatives, will serve as the first volley in a 10-day battle that will determine whether much of the federal government shuts down on Oct. 1. It cleared a test vote in the House on Thursday, 230-192, setting up a final vote for Friday.

Once approved by the House, the measure will move to the Senate, where Democratic leaders have vowed to restore funding to ObamaCare and could try to increase spending levels to soften the blow of sequestration.

Backed into a corner by conservatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday challenged Senate Republicans to "pick up the mantle and get the job done" by fighting for the House measure in the upper chamber.

President Obama has made it clear that he would veto any bill that defunded the health care law, and would only support measures that allowed the government to function while further debate on spending took place. Late Friday morning, Talking Points Memo reported that the House passed its plan to fund the government but with funding for the health care law stripped out.

Fox & Friends used the veto threat to dishonestly pin the blame for a possible government shutdown solely on Obama. On September 20, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested Democrats and Obama were "the obstacle on the course." Co-host Steve Doocy went further, putting the blame for a possible shutdown squarely on the president, claiming Republicans are ready "to pass a plan today to keep the government from shutting down. But there's one thing standing in the way -- the President of the United States."

In fact, Republican senators have criticized the House GOP's move as unrealistic and said that Congress, not Obama, will get the blame for any government shutdown. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that the Senate "will not repeal, or defund" the health care law, and to think that it can be done "is not rational." McCain also noted that Americans "reacted in a very negative fashion towards Congress" for the government shutdown in the 1990s, and told the Washington Examiner that the House plan is a "suicide note." Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) similarly commented that he's "not in the shut down the government crowd." Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who previously called a Republican idea to defund the law by forcing a government shutdown a "dumb idea," said he still thinks "it's a dumb idea, because you can't defund Obamacare." The Huffington Post reported that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) "continues to see the legislative strategy as a political dead end for the GOP," and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said she doesn't think the House GOP "should shut down the government" to stop the health care law.

Even other Fox News personalities agree House Republicans' tactics leading to a government shutdown are bad strategy. In his September 18 Wall Street Journal column, Fox News contributor Karl Rove wrote that the effort has no "credible chance of succeeding" or swaying public opinion:

The desire to strike at ObamaCare is praiseworthy. But any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.

The defunding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it.

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer also said that the move "would be over a cliff for the GOP," and called Republicans committed to the plan "a suicide caucus."

Fox News personalities have in the past blamed Obama for previous Republican brinksmanship over government funding, while at the same time encouraging the GOP to shut down the government. Despite Fox & Friends' attempt to do that again here, as MSNBC's Timothy Noah explained, "polls and past history indicate the GOP would get the blame."

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