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Harry Reid is holding our government hostage

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Reuters

“It’s my way or the highway.”  That’s the message D.C. Democrats are sending to America. “I will not negotiate,” says President Obama. 

“There’s no need for conversations,” says Harry Reid. “We’ve spoken loudly and clearly, and we have the support of the president of the United States.” 

The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, didn’t even bother to show up for the House vote to keep the government open.  

Reid, who calls advocates of defunding the dysfunctional ObamaCare “anarchists,” took the weekend off. 

Those of us trying to fix Washington may be “anarchists” in the eyes of the Democrats’ Senate majority leader, but at least we show up for work.

Must be nice. Those of us trying to fix Washington may be “anarchists” in the eyes of the Democrats’ Senate majority leader, but at least we show up for work.

Talking heads have been painting hyperbolic imagery of a shutdown Armageddon for weeks.

Cars speeding off fiscal cliffs, cans getting kicked down roads of economic destruction, chaos in the streets, pure pandemonium -- all because of those Tea Party “wacko birds” – as the distinguished Republican Sen. John McCain called his colleagues – and their “dangerous game of political chicken,” according to former Republican U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette. 

This could have all been avoided, of course. The House has already sent three bills to the Senate that would fully fund the government.

The first continuing resolution would have permanently defunded the president’s broken health care law. The second would have delayed it for a year, while the third would have delayed just the individual mandate and included a version of the Vitter Amendment (named for Sen. David Vitter) which subjects Congress to the same ObamaCare costs and restrictions as the rest of America.

All three were rejected by an obstinate Democrat-controlled Senate, unwilling to move forward unless Harry Reid gets everything he wants.

So instead of pursuing defunding ObamaCare, House Republicans offered to simply delay it the wildly unpopular individual mandate.  

According to my scoreboard, that puts the count at three Republican compromise solutions to the Democrats’ zero. House Republicans have already come to the negotiating table. They shouldn't negotiate with themselves anymore.

Republicans should wait until the president and the Senate majority leader show up to work, to negotiate common ground in good faith.  

They may have to wait a while.  

The Democrats seem hell bent on feeding into the slimdown scare in the public eye, rather than being cooperative and helping House Republicans to put the fire out.

Where, exactly, is that spirit of compromise and bipartisan solutions that the Democrats keep talking about these days?

In a desperate attempt to preserve the last remnants of the president’s wilting legacy, Harry Reid is holding government funding hostage. 

The problem is, everyone is beginning to see the president’s poorly designed health care takeover for the train wreck that it is.

If the Senate majority leader believes that he could just take the weekend off, quietly plant the political hot potato back in the House at the last minute, and then wave his arms in melodramatic disgust on C-SPAN for all to see, he is greatly mistaken. This is not your grandfather’s shutdown showdown. 

Unlike 1995, grassroots America is paying close attention, and they’re doing it in real-time. Citizen activists, armed with social media and a community of principle-driven peers, have fundamentally changed the power structure in Washington.

Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable that a decentralized network of individuals nationwide could out-muscle the lobbyists and Washington’s political class to successfully pass a spending plan that fully defunds ObamaCare.

These are the same activists that helped elect the conservative heroes leading the charge on this fight, including Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. 

Over the last few weeks, FreedomWorks activists alone drove over 60,000 calls to Congress demanding a continuing resolution that funds every part of the government without funding ObamaCare, with no sneaky procedural strings attached.

The House did its job – three times, actually. 

Now it’s time for the Senate Democrats to meet them halfway. 

No matter how many ways he tries to spin it, Harry Reid is holding the hot potato. And if he’s not careful, Democrats will have to explain to a lot of angry Americans why preserving Obama’s legacy was worth shutting the government down.

Matt Kibbe is the president of FreedomWorks and author of the "Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government's Stranglehold on America" (William Morrow 2012) Follow him on Twitter at @MKibbe.