Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, spilled the beans during a meeting with wealthy Republican donors in New York City, admitting that the reason they’ve shut down the government is to appease the Tea Party:
On a Monday last month, Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, met with some top GOP donors for lunch at Le Cirque on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The donors, a youngish collection of financial industry types and lawyers, had some questions for Walden, a mild-mannered lawmaker from eastern Oregon known for speaking his mind.
Why, they asked, did the GOP seem so in the thrall of its most extremist wing? The donors, banker types who occupy the upper reaches of Wall Street’s towers, couldn’t understand why the Republican Party—their party—seemed close to threatening the nation with a government shutdown, never mind a default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised later this month.
“Listen,” Walden said, according to several people present. “We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”
As has been obvious for a long time, the extreme right wing tail is now wagging the Republican dog. But let’s also not forget the role that Citizens United and its progeny, the Free Speech Now case, plays in all of this. The reason why those primary challenges are credible threats is because of groups like the American Future Fund and other far-right PACs and 501(c)(4) groups, which can drop $10 million in ads on a congressional district attacking incumbents and make it far more difficult for them to fight off a challenge from the right.