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Republicans, don't cave on shutdown

By Newt Gingrich, CNN Contributor
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich: Worst possible outcome on budget showdown would be if GOP backed down
  • He notes Obama willing to negotiate with Iran, Russia and Syria but not with GOP
  • He says getting elected does not give Obama free rein to enforce his agenda on the unwilling
  • Gingrich: If House caves, it will confirm contempt Obama and Harry Reid hold for Republicans

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-cost of CNN's new "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays. A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

(CNN) -- The worst possible outcome for the country from the impasse over the continuing resolution that would prevent a government shutdown would be for House Republicans to cave.

This is a pivotal conflict that will define the relationship between Congress and the executive branch for the next three years. The country will be much better off if Congress does not abdicate its constitutional role and if the president cannot ignore that role.

When President Barack Obama is willing to negotiate with Russian, Syrian and Iranian leaders but unwilling to negotiate with the U.S. House of Representatives, it is time for the House to stand firm.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, according to unnamed sources quoted in Politico, that he will refuse to attend a negotiation at the White House because House Republicans have to cave and surrender to his terms, it is time to stand firm.

When a senior, unnamed Democratic official is quoted Monday morning calling for no negotiations and saying "it's time to punch the bully in the nose," it is time to stand firm.

Begala: Bet on Obama in shutdown showdown

When Obama spends a week making three partisan speeches attacking Republicans and then calls House Speaker John Boehner to tell him, "I will not negotiate," it is time to stand firm.

The finances of a shutdown
Judd Gregg on U.S. shutdown
Government shutdown and you

It is a sad commentary on Obama's attitude toward the elected majority of the House of Representatives that he could have a more pleasant conversation with the head of the Iranian dictatorship than with the elected leader of the U.S. House.

The left has sold itself on a false history of the 2012 election. According to the left, Obama won the election and therefore we should do whatever he wants.

This ignores that there was also an election for the "People's House" in 435 congressional districts, and the Republicans won. It also ignores the 63 million Americans who voted against his re-election and his agenda. Winning 52% does not mean he gets 100% of what he wants.

Zelizer: Government shutdown threat is getting very old, very fast

The president has decided to seek to bully and bluff his way to get what he wants. House Republicans must not abdicate their responsibilities now.

Any surrender on the continuing resolution would confirm the contempt with which Obama and Reid already hold Boehner and his Republican colleagues. This fight is about something much bigger than the Republican Party and the future of Obamacare.

It is about whether the president dictates to America's elected representatives or negotiates with them when they disagree. It will be very bad for America if a president whose hubris is astounding is reinforced in the belief that he can bully his way into getting everything he wants by making demagogic attack speeches.

The next few weeks might be painful if House Republicans insist on getting to a compromise and refuse to surrender. But the next three years will be frightening if House Republicans cave and the president learns that nothing stands between him and his ability to use overweening power outside the Constitution to advance his ideology.

This is a big moment of decision for America. Don't give in now.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Newt Gingrich.

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