Saboteurs

The Republican Invitation to Anarchy

"Obstructionist,” “blackmail,” “extortion,” “hostage-taking,” “unpatriotic,” “incoherent,” and “suicidal” are some of the words being used to describe the strategy of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that has shut down the federal government. And many of those words of condemnation are coming from Republicans, not just Democrats.

Initially, the House Republicans’ refusal to pass a continuing-funding resolution to keep the government open was tied to the unreasonable demand that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be repealed, defunded, or delayed. This was the goal of the bombastic freshman senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, who quickly became the darling of the Tea Party for his faux “filibuster” in the Senate. (Cruz’s opposition to the ACA seems to be more about the political consequences of its likely success than about its possible failure.) Since the ACA’s insurance exchanges were going to open October 1 regardless of what Congress did about the budget, Cruz’s day-long speech was just a stunt. His aim, evidently, was to stiffen the spines of the Tea Party caucus in the House, the group of radicals who want to close down the government, and perhaps even default on the national debt, in order to stop the ACA and shrink the size of government more generally.

So far, this small group of thirty to sixty Republicans has prevented John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, from allowing a vote on a “clean” budget bill that does not defund the ACA. Between House Democrats and moderate Republicans there are enough votes to pass a temporary budget and reopen the government. Recognizing that the ACA cannot be stopped, Boehner has shifted his position and now wants the president and the Democrats to negotiate a budget bill that includes significant spending cuts before he will allow a vote on the continuing resolution. But earlier this year the Democrats already agreed to cut $70 billion from the budget without increasing revenues, only to have the House reject the bill. Understandably, the president and the Democrats are now determined that the government be reopened before they negotiate a final budget. If he were to capitulate to the House’s demands, the president argues, every future budget could be held hostage by a radical and unrepresentative minority in Congress, and the constitutional system would grind to a halt. If democracy is to work, a minority cannot nullify the legislative will of the majority.

Even worse, Tea Party Republicans are also refusing to extend the nation’s debt ceiling unless the president and the Democrats comply with their demands. This is an invitation to anarchism. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by October 17, widespread economic damage is almost certain. Whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, the vast majority of Americans are shocked and outraged that some in Congress are endangering the economic well-being and security of the nation, if not the world, in pursuit of their narrow ideological agenda. Surely it is time for cooler heads in the GOP to put country before party and bring this crisis to an end before the nation as a whole stumbles into a constitutional and economic crisis that will make passing a federal budget look like child’s play. Many conservative voices, including the Wall Street Journal, have called for common sense and prudent compromise. How little effect those calls have had reveals the danger and precariousness of the situation.

In our upcoming issue, David M. Kennedy reviews Breach of Trust, Andrew Bacevich’s jeremiad about how the nation as a whole has turned away from the democratic ideal of the citizen-soldier, refusing to recognize that the burdens of the nation’s defense must be shared in an equitable and responsible way. Bacevich, a frequent Commonweal contributor, offers a bleak assessment of the moral failings of our self-satisfied, consumer-driven culture. Americans, he writes, have “abandoned collective obligation in favor of personal choice.” Kennedy summarizes Bacevich’s argument thus: “Americans have mutated into passive spectators, not active citizens, across a wide spectrum of once-sacred civic responsibilities.”

It is hard not to see this dynamic at work in the current political crisis. The Tea Party scoffs at the notion that “collective obligation” or “sacred civic responsibilities”—to provide health-care insurance to those who cannot afford it, for instance—might even exist. Rather, the movement upholds as sacred the right to be left alone. But we do have responsibilities for one another. Like it or not, as a self-governing people we are all very much in this together. Our economic and social lives are more deeply entangled than many Americans imagine or like to acknowledge. Just how entangled will quickly become apparent if the extremists in Congress force the country to default on its debts.

Topics: 

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

IT IS A SHAME THAT ONE PARTY, OR IS IT A "SUB PARTY" , IS WILLING TO HOLD AMERICA HOSTAGE.

 JUST AS PIRTES TAKE CONTROL OF SHIPS IN INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING LANES AND HOLDING THEM FOR HOSTAGE, SO TO IS JOHN BOEHNER AND THE TEA PARTY WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DOING THE SAME THING TO AMERICA AND IT'S DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT.

 NOW AS THE BILLS ARE COMING DUE TO PAY FOR 2 UNFUNDED WARS, WARS WHICH HAVE BEEN FUNDED BY APPROPRIATION BILLS AND PUT ON THE GOVERNMENTCREDIT CARD BEFORE PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS ELECTED THE REPUBLICANS DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR THESE BILLS. INSTEAD, THEY WANT THE WORKING CLASS/MIDDLE CLASS TO PAY FOR THE ENTIRE MESS. THAT WAY PEOPLE LIKE MITT ROMNEY, THE WALTON BRATS, AND THE KOCH BROTHERS GET OFF SCOTT FREE. THEIR TAX BREAKS ARE PROTECTED WHILE WE ARE BEING FORCED TO PAY THE ENTIRE BILL BY CANCELLING FOODSTAMPS FOR THE POOR AND WORKING POOR.

 PAUL RYAN, IN HIS INFINITE WISDOM TAKES MONEY AWAY FROM EMERGENCY SERVICES AND AT THE SAME TIME MANAGE TO GIVE A  HUGE TAX BREAKS AGAIN TO HIS BENEFACTORS.

 THIS CRAP THAT JOHN BOEHNER CAN BE BROUGHT TO A STOP BY THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE AGAINST THIS SHUT DOWN CAN BAND TOGETHER, IF THEY HAVE THE GUTS, AND DEMAND A VOTE ON A NEW HOUSE SPEAKER. REMOVE BOEHNER AND CANTOR AND RYAN FROM THEIR POSITIONS AND ELECT MEMBERS WHO ARE WILLING TO PUT AMERICA FIRST AND THEIR IDEOLOGY LAST.

 THIS PRESIDENT HAS BEEN TREATED WORSE THAN GEORGE W. BUSH. AT LEAST CONGRESS RAISED THE DEBT LIMIT UNDER BUSH 44 TIMES. EITHER UNDER A DEMOCRATIC CONTROLED HOUSE OR A REPUBLICAN CONTROL HOUSE.

 AMERICA DESERVES BETTER. WALL STREET WILL TANK AGAIN.ESPECIALLY AFTER HAVING RECORD AMOUNTS OF PROFITS SINC PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK  OFFICE.

 THE WORKFORCE IS ON THE MOVE,ALBEIT SLOWLY. BUT AT LEAST MORE PEOPLE HAVE GONE BACK TO WORK UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA. GEORGE W LOST A LOT OF JOBS ON HIS WATCH.

AMERICA DESERVES BETTER.

 END THIS CHARADE OF TRYING TO BLAME DEMOCRATS FOR ALL OF THE DEFECIT SPENDING UNDER BUSH. REMEMBER, IT WAS JOHN MCCAIN,FAILED PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER, THAT SAID, "HE WAS ASHAMED OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THEY ARE SPENDING MONEU FASTER THAN A DRUNKEN SAILOR."

Well, much of this mess is due to the so-called Catholics on the Supreme Court, who destroyed democracy with the Citizens United ruling.  And where are the Catholic Bishops?  It's time to call out the Republicans who call themselves Catholic who are letting the country run aground.

Meanwhile, there is a report, admittedly from political source, that O'Malley and Lori have requeusted that any continuing resolution repeal the contraception mandate!

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/10/07/2743471/catholic-bishops-to-...

Their letter is on the USCCB web site:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-prot...

How the "party of business" has fallen!  It seems that many Republicans have not even an inkling of understanding of the consequences of what they are threatening, not only for the United States but also for the rest of the world. What would Bob Taft say?  These legislators seem to have no grasp of the potential that the US dollar might fade as the world's reserve currency, for example.  (Perhaps the British pound will rise again?)    And, they have apparently learned nothing from the LAST shutdown which they caused, have no understanding of the financial and other costs which were incurred and which fell on the American people. 

Our country is beginning to remind me of other dysfunctional governments of the past, such as France's Fourth Republic.  The difference is that, when a French government fell, services continued unabated.  It is ridiculous to see the world's last remaining superpower behave in such a puerile fashion.  I understand that even Ronald Regan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and never with any hoopla of the kind we are now seeing.

A friend who is a former legislative aide at both the state and federal levels avers that these members of Congress are violating their oath of office by such radical behavior.  I believe that she is correct.  Yet it appears that, in our form of government, only Congress itself (or more accurately, the individual chamber of Congress involved) can discipline those members -- and that appears unlikely in the extreme.  One may only hope that the memories of voters are not too short. 

The attempted extortion by the members of the so-called Tea Party is all too reminiscent of the role of the democratically elected Nazis before Hitler's takeover.  We are treading on dangerous ground, indeed.

Whoa....brothers/sisters....chill......

i think the markets are well aware that the US is not going to default and have a pretty good idea of what is going on in Washington. The dogs bark but the caravan moves!!

I would disagree that it is the tea party, alone, that scoffs at collective responsibility. The privatization and two tiered health care system is alarming for most Canadians. Whenever health care reform is brought up, Canadians are fearful that an American styled, two tiered health care system will be created in Canada where the wealthy get quality care and the poor, most of whom need it the most are marginalized.

When the Affordable Health Care Act was passed it was Democrats who controlled all chambers of governments. Universal, single payer, government paid for insurance was proposed and rejected. That is hugely problematic. I watched with disgust the spectacle of bribery, special favours for some states. Hardly a display of high minded civic virtue predicated on principles of equity and fairness!!

This whole health care thing is not going to succeed in the long run. Upper middle class people are going to be ticked when they see their insurance rise so that others can get into the market. Businesses will not be able to afford the premiums and are going to have to limit coverage to individuals and not families. It is going to divide people. You are going to see more and more people angry at those who smoke, those who are obese, those who do not take steps to manage and care for their health because they will see the impact in their insurance.

Far, far better when these costs are more hidden through taxation. Tax liquor, tax cigarettes, tax luxury items, cable ( so called "sin" taxes!) and use those revenues to provide insurance and education and health promotion.

 

 

George D: what's wrong with taxing INCOMES?   Tax rates are at record low levels for the richest Americans.  

From the USCCB bishops letter to Congress about what to include in the ' raise the debt ceiling legislation'

" " incorporating the policy of this bill into such "must-pass" legislation.'.... [their bold print]

[meaning contraceptive exclusion for Taco Bell. et al]  

they go on...."Protection for conscience rights in health care is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church, "

That is like a kibitzer looking at a poker players losing hand and wanting to give the loser more money to bet.

Here's an insightul article by raional Republican David Frum on what's wrong and  has been wrong with the Republican Pary for decades now.

"Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties" 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/08/seven-habits-of-highly-...

I say the GOP needs a new theorist who can show the necessity for a strong cntral government plus subsidiarity and some leaders strong enough to counter the individualism of recenet years.  We don't live in the lovely, simple Virginia of the 18th entury. 

"I think the markets are...."  Yikes!  Who or what is "the markets"?  Best I can tell there ain't no such thing.  It is a name we give to a group of individuals and organizations who, in concert with investment individuals and groups, stole a bunch of money not long ago and got away with it.  They are sitll at it.  When the motive is lethal competition and the goal is get rich first, who, other than a masochist or an insider, follows that lead?

I do so love those who suggest common sense will lead us forward while their words and deeds express anything but common sense.  Where I changing a tire on my car and another person were lowering the jack every time I raised it I don't believe I would blame myself for an inablity to change the tire.  The fanatics who have so successfully destroyed the Republican Party did a great deal to ensure the ACA did not come into existence and, in the process, made it less than it could have been.  Are we suppose to be so stupid we did not notice?  Common sense alone would have rightly predicted the scale of the ACA would have guarenteed implementation problems.  And, my goodness, here they are.

How exactly one is able to utterly discount if not ignore the fact Ted Cruz's wife, a regional head at Goldman Sachs, is able to provide him with more than adequate health insurance whatever his circumstances is beyond understanding.  It's a bit of a stretch but it seems to me a useful analogy would be the usefulness of Christ preaching from heaven rather than amongst us.

Bravo! I was just asking myself the same thing the other day, "Where are the Bishops?" This is a moral outrage.

Is this useful?  It's a piece in the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik titled "The John Bircher's Tea Party".

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/10/the-john-birchers-...

 

Share

About the Author