First, the Democrats could be attempting to hold military pay hostage. It's no secret that Republicans are more vocally pro-military and are more likely to make concessions in order to ensure that soldiers and their families are taken care of. The Democrats may believe that they can ransom military pay in exchange for other budget items that they find favorable.
Second, they may be laboring under the delusion that the military will turn 180 en masse and blame the Republicans if a shutdown causes a stoppage in military pay. The military in general skews right, and the Democrats may be using this to turn them away from the Republicans in time for the 2012 election season.
And third, if there is such a shutdown, when a budget is finally agreed upon, all military members and beneficiaries will receive all the back pay they are owed. The Democrats may be hoping that, with a little help from their friends in the mainstream media, they can jump in and claim responsibility for finally righting all the wrongs and reclaiming what rightfully belongs to the military from the evil, greedy Republicans who don't care if children starve while their fathers and mothers defend our freedom.
The problem is that the military is not completely comprised of idiots. They know that Republicans generally fight for the military. Thanks to Facebook and a recent cut-and-paste status update, they are all aware that when President Obama is left to make budget decisions on his own, welfare recipients get larger pay raises than soldiers. And if they are paying attention to current events, they know that the Republicans are the ones pushing for a temporary budget agreement that includes covering all military pay and benefits for the entire fiscal year - and they also know that the President and the Democrats in Congress have rejected that proposal.
So bring it on, Democrats. Bring on the government shutdown that you think will be your saving grace. But when I get my benefits in back pay, I'll be thanking the Republicans. First, for standing strong as America demanded last November, and second, for supporting the military at every turn rather than using them as a pawn for political gains.