The Freedom Caucus, or Shutdown Caucus, which I prefer to call it, is an organization composed of approximately 40 radical right wing Republicans serving in the House of Representatives who regularly threaten to shut down the federal government unless their demands are met. This extreme tactic can cause serious harm. For example, Wikipedia reports:
The United States federal government shutdown of 2013 ran from October 1 to October 16, 2013. The primary issue of dispute between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate was the Republicans’ desire to delay or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), signed into law in 2010. A bill to end the shutdown and fund federal agencies through January 15, 2014, passed the Senate and the House and was signed into law on October 17, 2013. Standard & Poor’s, the financial ratings agency, stated on October 16 that the shutdown “to date has taken $24 billion out of the economy,” and “shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth.”
Threatening to shutdown the government in order to get what you want is a form of extortion. This time they believe themselves to be on a mission from God to defund Planned Parenthood (PP), which provides health care and family planning for women who cannot afford to pay for the services. PP also performs abortions of first trimester pregnancies as permitted by law. I use the term ‘mission from God’ because these Republican extremists oppose lawful abortion on religious grounds and they are determined to impose their belief on everyone who disagrees with them.
We are a democracy. Elected officials have a duty to abide by the law regardless if they disagree with it. Likewise, an elected official should never seek to forcibly impose his ideas on a majority of his colleagues who disagree with him. Yet that is exactly what the members of the shutdown caucus have been attempting to do. Even more egregious, they have lied and continue to lie by claiming that PP: (1) receives federal money to pay for abortions and (2) sells aborted fetuses for profit, despite an absence of any credible evidence that supports their claims. I use the word ‘credible’ because the evidence upon which they rely (i.e., videos produced by an anti-abortion group) does not support their claims. In short, they have been exposed as liars. Nevertheless, they have refused to backdown.
This is straight-up gangster activity. We have a word for it in the criminal law. We call it extortion.
But for Speaker John Boehner’s unexpected decision to resign on October 30th that threw the Republican leadership into disaray, the House would not have passed the CR last week. That would have precipitated a government shutdown that would have commenced last Thursday. During this 90 day lull in the Republican War against Planned Parenthood, the Republicans will choose a new Speaker to replace John Boehner. Since the Democrats are unlikely to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the threat, I believe we are looking at a government shutdown when the 90 day period ends.