Recognizing that out-of-control medical costs represented a growing threat to the health of Americans and the health of our nation, then-candidate, Barack Obama, vowed to overhaul our health care system if elected president in 2008. Almost immediately after being sworn into office, President Obama challenged the Democratic-led Congress to deliver a health care reform bill for his signature. After much debate and many Republican-sponsored amendments, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act promising to contain health care costs and to provide health insurance to nearly 50 million uninsured Americans. The president signed the bill into law. More than a year later, a conservative Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional. And in 2012, the public showed its approval by re-electing President Obama and Senate Democrats.
That’s how democracy works. Or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Despite all of this, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives refuses to accept the law, having voted to repeal or defund it 41 times. In a final lack of defiance, they refused to fund it as part of their government funding resolution despite statements by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, that the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the US Senate and statements by President Obama that he would veto the bill.
They passed the bill anyway, trying to place the blame on President Obama and Democrats.
In response, Congressional Republicans claimed to compromise by passing a spending bill that would delay funding of “Obamacare” for a year. Apparently, they believed that Democrats would be stupid enough to think that the delay was any more than a public relations attempt to deflect blame for the government shutdown.
So here we are. Our entire government has come to a standstill because of a Teapublican tantrum against a health care law their own party proposed during the 1996 presidential campaign to counter President Bill Clinton’s universal health care initiative.
Ironically, the Teapublican snitfit has not affected the implementation of “Obamacare.” Millions of Americans have signed up for health insurance exchanges since the government shutdown. Moreover, although the budget passed by the House does not fund “Obamacare,” it includes the savings which will be realized by the law.
Without “Obamacare,” the government budget being pushed by Republicans doesn’t add up! In other words, it’s ideological. But not mathematical. Indeed, it has been estimated that the government shutdown will cost taxpayers $10 billion per week! And that doesn’t even include losses by individuals.
Obviously, House Teapublicans need a time-out.
How long will Teapublicans whine, scream and cry before voters lose patience and slap them on their considerable behinds? No one knows. While tens of thousands of government workers go without paychecks, the congressmen behind the shutdown will continue to collect theirs. And, if you think that they will feel threatened by their constituents, think again. Most congressional districts have been so gerrymandered, they will likely be re-elected no matter how bad their behavior.
Despite this, there is reason to hope. Yesterday, it was announced that 17 moderate Republicans are willing to vote for a clean bill that would fund the federal government and “Obamacare.” Assuming that all House Democrats would vote for such a bill, that’s enough votes to end the government shutdown. But it requires Speaker Boehner standing up to the Tea Party parasites in his caucus and bringing the bill to a vote.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.