Who’s to blame for the government shutdown?

The GOP has shut down the government for the first time in 17 years in their quest to deny health care to millions.

And, yes, we can safely lay the blame for this economic shutdown at the feet of Tea Party Republicans.

How do we know for sure?

Isn’t this simply more bipartisan bickering?

Aren’t both parties really to blame?

Well, no.

Just listen to what Congressional Tea Partiers said as they campaigned for office.

The goal was to shut down the government. This was the plan all along. (ThinkProgress first published this audio on Sept. 10, 2010).

As Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland campaigned during the height of the Tea Party frenzy in 2010, he fired up the right-wing base by comparing Obamacare to gangrene. He said the GOP plan to shut down the government will be painful but the gangrene “needed to be cleaned out.”

“We need to make sure you are going to be with us when we shut down the government, which we will do if we win the majority this year,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, September 2010.

Here’s the bottom line: Elected leaders can’t campaign on a promise to shut down the government in their radical, right-wing home districts and then try to place the blame on anyone else.

It’s time for Georgia’s Congressmen to own up to the fact that the government shut down is exactly what they planned.

Even many Republican leaders know who to blame.

Don’t take our word for it, here’s what Republicans are saying about the shutdown:

Risking a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare is the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heardSen. Richard Burr (R-NC)

After voting against [Obamacare] some 40 times, we have represented our constituents and made our point” Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)

Republicans threatening shutdown are a “suicide caucus” conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer

Republicans are behaving like “lemmings with suicide vests” and “now we have to stick with the Ted Cruz-lemmings strategy” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Shutting down the government has hurt the economy and hurt millions of Americans.

But ironically, the GOP’s quest did nothing to actually stop Obamacare.

Instead, millions of Americans flooded onto the insurance marketplaces to shop for a quality, affordable health plan. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians can now buy health insurance without being asked their medical history or being denied for pre-existing conditions.

There’s really no debate about this.

One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law.