A must-read article in the NY Times explains exactly how the shutdown was planned, financed, and executed. Down to the exact talking points you now hear coming from the mouths of tea-party conservative politicians.
Heck, back in February they even published a self-named “Blueprint to Defunding Obamacare“, which was funded by a multitude of groups (often orchestrated by the billionaire Koch brothers — see, you really can buy government!)
They also put together an (again self-named) “Defunding Obamacare Toolkit“, including sample tweets to use to astroturf a grassroots movement against the law. You know, just in case their Tea Party drones were too stupid to come up with their own tweets, or couldn’t spell big words like “exemptions”.
The planning even included talking points to deflect blame for engineering the shutdown.
What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?
—> We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.
—> If Congress is willing to defund this terrible law and stand up for the American people, the American people will support them.
It doesn’t matter that this answer is nonsense. If you keep repeating it people will believe it.
But the worst part is that they also used strong-arm tactics to punish any Republicans who didn’t go along with their plan to shut down the government. For example, when one North Carolina Republican Congressman told a reporter that defunding Obamacare was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard” conservative groups paid for ads attacking him. Republican Senators like Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham were also targeted, and are now being challenged by Tea Party backed candidates in their upcoming primaries.
Luckily, there may just be a silver lining to all this. Paul Krugman believes that the people who engineered this shutdown are “deeply incompetent” and calls the current GOP “the political equivalent of the Keystone Kops”. In fact, now that their plan to defund Obamacare has failed, they don’t even have a clue as to how to back down.