Tossing over 800,000 federal workers out of work, the White House and Congress showed the America public how little think of working folks. While House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Republicans would like to litigate Obamacare, they can’t stop funding the federal government. Boehner and his Senate counterpart Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insist the president won’t negotiate his health care reform known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Republicans didn’t have the votes needed to block the legislation before Obama signed it into law March 21, 2010. If Republicans wanted to repeal Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, could they threaten to de-fund the government to get their way? Vetted by the Supreme Court June 21, 2012, Obamacare remains the law of the land, whether or not it’s wanted by Republicans.
No one can get a straight answer from any GOP elected official or media pundit why the GOP is willing to shutdown the government to stop Obamacare. Not one elected official, including Tea Party advocates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa), has said why the GOP feels so strongly about Obamacare to toss 800,000 federal workers out of their jobs. Blaming the shutdown on Boehner, Obama reminded confused citizens that the House Speaker could put a “clean” continuing resolution spending bill up for a House vote. So far, Boehner has let the Tea Party wing call the shots, driving down GOP approval ratings in advance of next year’s midterm elections. Holding firm, Obama and his Democratic strategists seem content to let the GOP continue to bloody itself as long a possible. Both sides need to think not about their political ambitions but beaten down federal workers.
Obama could have ordered Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to file for injunctive relief in D.C.’s U.S. District Court. It’s entirely possible a federal judge would order an injunction against the current budget stalemate, requiring the GOP to loosen the purse-strings. It’s probably not constitutional for lawmakers to de-fund the government to exact political concessions out of the opposing party. Whatever one thinks of Obamacare, most people agree that shutting down the federal government goes over the top. Boehner and his GOP followers need to explain why they think the damage done to the U.S. economy from Obamacare is just too great to fund it. With the debt ceiling approaching Oct. 17, Washington will have to get better control over the bitter partisanship that’s shutdown the government. Facing a possible default of the U.S. government, the stakes grow bigger by the day.
White House and Congressional officials need to get off their high horses and end the government shutdown with no strings attached. If the Tea Party feels so strongly about Obamacare, they need to continue winning elections and collecting more votes to repeal it. Shutting down the government or threatening to default the U.S. Treasury shows that Tea Party zealots violated their oath of office and need to be prosecuted for treason. What’s more treasonous than deliberately sending the country into bankruptcy trying to advance a political agenda. They all swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, protecting the country against all enemies, foreign or domestic. Acting like terrorists to advance a political agenda violates their oath of office. Boehner must stop placating the upstarts and remind them they have a bigger duty as elected officials than to their personal cause.
If reputable U.S. economists really believed that Obamacare would wreck the U.S. economy they would have stepped up with a clarion call before it passed both House of Congress. GOP officials know the importance of national health care to the Democratic Party. They fought for it in various forms since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Whether or not the Tea Party wants end all taxes and rollback the government’s size and scope to colonial days, progressive voices believe it’s in the country’s best interest to provide health insurance to all citizens, not just those with jobs, elderly, poor or disabled. Despite the tsunami of right wing propaganda, Obamcare is not a government takeover of health care. It’s simply provides private insurance to individuals unable to get it on their own because of the insurance industry’s long-time discrimination against self-employed individuals.
Boehner’s played along with the Tea Party long enough. He needs to tell the monomaniacal upstarts that their oath of office to the American people and nation goes beyond repealing Obamacare. When Rep. Steven King admitted he was elected solely for the purpose of repealing Obamacare, he’s sadly confused about his oath of office. While he’s elected by his own district, he took an oath to defend the Constitution and the U.S. government. Shutting down the government to coerce the White House into making concessions on established legislation goes against every principle of representative government. If he or his House colleagues hold more loyalty to the Tea Party than the U.S. Constitution, they need to resign and take their rebellion to the streets. It’s time for Boehner to rein in the rebellion or begin charging elected officials with contempt of Congress.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.