Exactly What Are Teapublicans Trying To Protect Us From?

In shutting down the federal government, GOP congressional leaders said they wanted to save us from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (aka “Obamacare”). In other words, they want to save Americans from an idea that they, themselves, proposed in 1996 and successfully implemented in Massachusetts as an alternative to universal health care.

So what great evils are they trying to keep at bay on our behalf?

They are trying to block our access to online marketplaces that will allow hundreds of thousands of Americans to choose more affordable options for health insurance. (Yes, HealthCare.gov will soon be fixed and, if the experience of Massachusetts is any indication, customers will wait until the last few weeks to sign up.) They are trying to overturn a new government rule that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. They are trying to overturn a new rule that prevents insurance companies from terminating policies rather than pay the costs of medical treatments. They are trying to save us from the tax credits we’ll receive for purchasing health insurance.

The GOP and their wealthy contributors are trying to save up to 50 million Americans from being able to afford private health insurance for the first time. They are trying to keep parents from adding adult children up to age 26 to their own insurance policies. They are trying to save us from subsidized preventative care that will help identify medical conditions before they become more serious (and expensive) diseases.

They are trying to make sure that those who already have health insurance will continue to bear the costs of the uninsured who use the Emergency Room for routine health care visits. They are trying to preserve Washington’s largest group of lobbyists. Teapublicans are trying to ensure that the cost of health care benefits continue to encourage large corporations to ship middle class jobs overseas. Finally, they are trying to ensure that increases in health care costs continue to outpace inflation and that the cost of prescriptions will continue to skyrocket.

It’s obvious we need someone to rescue us for these self-proclaimed rescuers!

The Legacy Of Lee Atwater: How Republicans Became The Party Of Racists.

Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, LBJ famously said that, by signing the bill, the Democratic Party may have lost the South for a generation. Not long afterward, Republican strategist Lee Atwater formulated the Southern Strategy, which encouraged Republicans to express their racism in more subtle ways in order to win elections.

“You start out in 1954 by saying N.…., N.…., N….. that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states rights, and all that stuff… All these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites,” said Atwater.

We’ve seen these dog whistles for racists play out in Republican politics ever since. Indeed, they’ve never been more apparent than now that we have an African-American president. Instead of using the N-word to describe President Obama, they use “de furer” [sic]. They portray him as a clown. They push for “3 strikes and you’re out” laws that fill our prisons with minorities. They support “stop and frisk” laws in our cities. And they pass restrictive voter ID laws in order to suppress minority votes.

I could cite hundreds of examples mostly generated by the “Grand Old Party” of the South.

Eventually, Atwater recognized the damage he had created. On his death bed, he apologized for his actions. But the Republican Party that embraced his views hasn’t. In fact, on what may well be the Party’s deathbed following their forced government shutdown and potential US default, much of the Republican Party, expecially its Tea Party parasites, is still clinging to Atwater’s advice.

May those who continue this strategy rot in the same hell as the Confederacy.

Why Do We Have A Debt Ceiling Anyway?

Following the Tea Party-forced government shutdown and near default, it’s worth considering doing away with the debt ceiling. It serves absolutely no purpose other than providing recalcitrant congressional representatives the opportunity to hold our government hostage in order to “negotiate” their pet issues.

Since the debt ceiling is a measure of money already spent by Congress, it has no real impact on congressional budgeting and government spending.

If we really want to limit government spending, what we need is a spending ceiling based on a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an absolute deadline for the House, the Senate and the White House to agree on a federal budget. Such a law would force Congress to negotiate the federal budget without threat of our government defaulting on its debts.

It would also be far more sensible than the Teapublican-sponsored balanced budget amendment that could lead to greater dysfunction than we’re already experiencing.

A spending ceiling would allow the budget to increase along with the GDP, and presumably the population, while maintaining fiscal discipline. Moreover, Congress and the White House could be given the flexibility to temporarily override the ceiling in special or extreme circumstances, such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession, as long as there was a commitment to offset the overrides within five years. This would allow the federal government to stimulate the economy for a year or two, or to increase spending in wartime. But, in most years, the political debate would be confined to how the money should be spent. Not the amount of money to be spent.

Such a system might allow citizens to more clearly track their representatives’ priorities. It might also make it difficult for representatives to speak in broad generalities about the budget and force them to address specific programs. And, if properly implemented, it might be easier to tell if a representative favored corporate welfare over human needs; or whether or not a representative was voting in support of special interests versus the interests of his, or her, constituents.

In other words, Congress would be forced to do something unprecedented…create a budget and live with its consequences.

GOP Put “Obamacare” Tantrum Above Infrastructure And Jobs.

In March of this year, President Obama called for Congress to approve a $21 billion package designed to update our crumbling infrastructure and create jobs. “Let’s get this done. Let’s rebuild this country we love. Let’s make sure we’re staying on the cutting edge,” Obama said, calling for a “partnership to rebuild America.”

As part of the package, Obama proposed creating an infrastructure bank to help seed major projects. In addition, his proposal would invest $4 billion to support the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) designed to leverage private and non-federal funding for projects of regional or national significance through loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit. The proposal also called for tax incentives meant to support state and municipal bonds for infrastructure modernization projects. The president noted that both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions back infrastructure spending.

It was met with indifference by Republicans in Congress.

Speaker John Boehner questioned how such projects would be funded. “It’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill,” he said.

Keep in mind the cost of the package was $21 billion…$3 billion less than Republicans and their Tea Party parasites squandered by shutting down the government for 16 days! Who’s going to pay that bill?

Wait! I already know the answer. If the GOP follows it’s usual protocol, the money will be taken from food stamps, kids and the working poor.

The $24 Billion Tantrum.

Following the Teapublican-caused government shutdown and threatened US default, it’s fair to look at what this pointless exercise cost us. Not including the human costs, economists at Standard & Poors estimate the cost of the government shutdown at $24 billion.

That’s larger than the entire annual budget for NASA ($17.8 billion) or the Department of the Interior ($13.5 billion). Put another way, it’s larger than the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency ($8.9 billion), the National Science Foundation ($7.5 billion), the Small Business Administration ($1.4 billion), the Corporation for National and Community Service ($1.1 billion) and the Disaster Relief Fund ($2 billion) combined.

It’s nearly double the annual revenue collected through the Estate and Gift Tax ($13 billion). It’s nearly half of the entire budget for Homeland Security. And, in more human terms, it would feed 1.6 million American families of four for an entire year!

Now imagine what would happen if Democrats proposed spending $24 billion to help the working poor or to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Teapublicans would cry, scream and hold their breath. They would fill the airwaves and the newspapers with paranoia. They would say that Democrats were mortgaging our children’s future. Yet they were willing to spend $24 billion on nothing…absolutely nothing.

Worse yet, 144 Teapublican Congressional Representatives and 18 Senators voted no on the bill to reopen the government and to prevent default! That’s 162 Teapublican votes to pour even more money down a rat hole. 162 votes to send the US government into default…risking a worldwide economic calamity!

And what might that have accomplished? Most economists feared that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would not only downgrade the rating of US bonds, it would create a collapse worse than the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009…maybe worse than the Great Depression. To put that into perspective, in a research paper for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, economists David Luttrell, Tyler Atkinson and Harvey Rosenblum calculated that the total cost of the Great Recession to the U.S. was on the order of $6 trillion to $14 trillion. The larger figure is roughly one full year of U.S. economic output and nearly equal to the entire federal debt!

Do you still think the Republican Party is the champion of fiscal responsibility?

Late Night Skullduggery By The GOP.

In the wee hours of September 30, the eve of the government shutdown, the GOP-controlled House Rules Committee pushed through a last minute amendment that was intended to go unnoticed. This slight of hand known as HR 368 changed long-standing House rules to prevent any House member other than Majority Leader Eric Cantor from calling for a vote on a Senate-passed bill.

In essence, this amendment usurped power from members of the House and gave it exclusively to the leader of the party that was intent on defunding “Obamacare” or shutting down the entire government. It was a ploy by GOP leadership to make sure that none of their members broke ranks and voted for a “clean” Senate bill to reopen the government.

In other words, they don’t trust the President, the Senate or even their own membership!

After all, it was certain that the Senate would eke out a compromise bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Just as certainly, a few of the more sensible GOP members of the House would bow to pressure from their constituents to vote for it. (It only takes 17 House Republicans to side with House Democrats to pass a bill.) HR 368 would ensure party purity by making it impossible for anyone other than the Majority Leader to bring a funding bill to the floor.

Further, by withholding the amendment until a few hours before the shutdown, the GOP “trickeration” would be more likely to go unnoticed by Democrats and the media in the wake of the government shutdown. And, of course, no Republican will talk about it.

This appears to be the GOP’s standard operating philosophy. If you can’t win by any other means, cheat!

UPDATE: After crafting a new spending bill without Democratic participation, House Republican leaders held a press conference today following a rendition of “Amazing Grace.” In a clueless display of hypocrisy, they repeated the word “fairness” dozens of times. Once they present their one-sided bill, it’s rumored that they plan to leave town before the Senate votes on its own bipartisan bill.

If Teapublicans Want To Be Taken Seriously, They Should Lose The Superiority Complex.

They need to stop claiming that they’re the only real patriots; stop pretending to be the only true protectors of liberty; stop wrapping themselves and their ideas in the US flag; stop quoting the Founding Fathers, at least until they read the Constitution – the whole Constitution – and stop believing that God has taken their side.

Most of all, they need to lose the anger and hate!

There are some important questions our nation needs to answer in our future. What should we expect of our government? What government programs are essential? Which ones can be cut? When does government become an intrusion into our lives? What should be the role of the US in the world? How much military spending is enough? How much is too much? What is the role of money in elections? How much influence should the wealthy and corporations be able to buy? What, if any, role should religion have in government? What can be done to keep ever more lethal weaponry out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill? What should be done with the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already in our country?

These are all legitimate questions that need to be answered. But we can’t have an honest debate as long as one side assumes that it has all the answers and, worse yet, that the other side has no place at the table.

Our government was founded to provide for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for our citizens. All of our citizens. Not those of one political party, ethnic group, race or religious belief.

The Founding Fathers argued intensely over the powers of our government. They debated their positions in the Federalist papers. Those on the side of a strong, central government won. As a result of the Framers’ decisions, our nation has had unparalleled success.

We should not hate our government or each other. We should debate loudly, but respectfully. The only ones who deserve our wrath are those who don’t vote and those who dismiss the views of others. That includes those who would hold our government hostage until they get their way!

Looking For Anonymity.

When a GOP congressman was asked if he would vote for a “clean” resolution to end the government shutdown, he said, “Sure, I’d vote for it. I think probably 140 of my colleagues would vote for it if it was a secret ballot.”


In other words, GOP representatives are willing to do the right thing as long as nobody finds out! Why? Who are they afraid of? The obvious answer is the Tea Party. Traditional Republicans are terrified by the wacko wing of the party and the billionaire benefactors (aka the Koch brothers) who finance them. Traditional conservatives are now afraid they will be “primaried.”

In other words, they are cowards.

That may seem harsh, but if your actions…or, in this case, inactions…are going to damage the nation and millions of its citizens, shouldn’t you be able to muster enough courage to risk your job? If you know right from wrong, shouldn’t you do the right thing regardless of the consequences? After all, what good is holding onto your job if you’re embarrassed to tell people what you really think?

In reality, such an attitude goes beyond mere cowardice. It’s quite clearly treasonous.

These people were elected to represent their consituents. They took a pledge to uphold the Constitution. So where in the Constitution does it say that you place your job above the nation? Where does it say that you should refuse to fund the government; a government of the people, by the people, and for the people?

These same cowards have been led to the edge of a cliff. They have no way forward. But they refuse to retreat…at least not if anyone can see them. So they’re looking for cover. The only question remaining is whether or not they’ll screw up the courage to do the right thing. Or if they’ll follow their wacko leaders off the cliff like lemmings.

Whichever direction they choose, the future of our nation hangs in the balance.

How To Shut Up Teapublicans.

John Boehner, Ted Cruz, et al are fond of blaming President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid for the government shutdown. In doing so, they claim that the Democrats “refuse to negotiate.”

Negotiate what?

The only thing Teapublicans want to “negotiate” is the Affordable Care Act, a bill that was duly passed by both houses of Congress, signed into law by the President and found to be constitutional by the US Supreme Court. That simply cannot be negotiated. It can be repealed. But that would take an act of both houses of Congress and the signature of the President, and that’s simply not going to happen.

So how about this? What if Obama and Reid offer to delay some aspects of the Affordable Care Act for a year in exchange for Teapublican agreement to pass a strict gun control bill that will ban all semi-automatic weapons and a bill to provide federally-funded abortions for any woman who needs one? I’m sure a majority in the Senate would agree to that, as well as the President.

What’s that you say? That’s unreasonable? Really?

It’s no more unreasonable than what Teapublicans are asking. So tell you what. When Teapublicans finally decide that they want to negotiate the federal budget in good faith, they should pass a temporary funding bill to restart the government. Then they should sit down with Democrats to discuss the budget like adults. That means both sides need to compromise.

Until then, the President and Senator Reid should stand pat.

Why You Can’t Negotiate With Terrorists.

Long ago, our law enforcement agencies learned that you can’t negotiate with terrorists, especially those who take hostages. The reason is that their demands are always unreasonable and they never live up to the negotiated agreement.

House Republicans are no different.

The President and Senate have been negotiating the federal budget for more than four years, trying to strike a fine balance between keeping our fragile economic recovery going and bringing deficits under control. Under President Obama, the deficit has dropped faster than at any time in history. And Democrats reluctantly agreed to make permanent the $70 billion in cuts to the federal budget that were part of the sequester. But after agreeing to the cuts, Speaker of the House betrayed the Senate Majority Leader by allowing the defunding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be included in the budget bill.

When the President and Senate refused to agree to the measure, the House offered a ”compromise” by attaching an amendment that would delay “Obamacare” for one year. Some compromise.

Since House Republicans have already voted to repeal or defund “Obamacare” more than 40 times, what assurance is there that they won’t vote to repeal the law another 40 times over the coming year?

After all, terrorists seldom live up to their word. And if they are willing to take our government and economy hostage once, they’re likely to do it again. Indeed, this is at least the third time in my lifetime that Republicans have shut down the government.

Republicans and their Tea Party parasites are always quoting the Constitution. It’s time they actually read it. Not just the 2nd and 10th Amendments…but the entire Constitution. If they would, they’d find that the House is only one part of the federal government, and it doesn’t have veto power. If they want to have a bill passed, they have to find agreement with the Senate and gain the signature of the President.

Only the President has veto power.  And the House doesn’t have the votes to override a presidential veto.

That means the House terrorists have only one option – to fund the government, at least temporarily, and then demonstrate that they can negotiate in good faith.

I, for one, don’t think they’re capable of that.