In Washington’s myopic vision, the government’s shutdown doesn’t affect U.S. foreign policy, digging deep into denial to excuse indefensible actions to de-fund President’s Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Whether the GOP despises Obamacare or not, it’s no reason to toss 800,000 federal workers out of their jobs and expose the dysfunction of divided government to the world. Based on the growing perception overseas, it looks a lot like a bloodless coup d’etat where the government was hijacked by right wing extremists hell-bent on stopping Obamacare. Why the hard right opposes Obamacare isn’t clear other than it’s been, since former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Party’s only political ambition. Hatred for Obamacare goes beyond logic since it’s approved by the conservative American Assn. of Health Plans.
Republicans, under the leadership of 64-year-old House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), have lashed out at Obama after years of losses in national elections. No matter how righteous the GOP, shutting down the government has cost Republicans dearly in the polls, now threatening their hopes for next year’s midterm elections. If mainstream voters were frightened in 2012 handing Barack his second term, they’re now horrified by the prospects of continued GOP control. No matter how gerrymandered GOP congressional districts, voters will likely payback Republicans next year for causing so much disruption. GOP talking points finger Obama but the polls say otherwise. Listening to Fox News or other right wing talks shows doesn’t give the GOP a clue about mainstream voters. Blaming Barack doesn’t seem to be working with GOP moderates and independents.
When a relatively small minority of Tea Party representatives decided to shutdown the government to stop Obamacare, it signaled a serious flaw in House rules. Had the same group decided to shutdown the government to de-fund Medicare or Social Security, there’s no way under present House rules to stop them. Once they decided to shut off government funding, the Justice Department should have filed for injunctive relief in the U.S. District Court in D.C. Because the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government can’t function, it’s up to the judicial branch to intervene. Disenfranchising the civil rights of 800,000 federal workers would have been sufficient for a federal judge to intervene. Given the impasse between the White House and Congress, the nation’s economy and national security is no longer safe in the government’s hands.
Boehner has indulged the Tea Party long enough, already jeopardizing the economy with the single-minded purpose of stopping Obamacare. Apart from despising the idea of more government largesse, there’s no rational argument behind repealing Obamacare. If Barack wants to call the GOP bluff, he’d offer immediately to repeal the April 21, 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the GOP agrees on a Medicare expansion to cover the nation’s 40 million uninsured. Tea Party zealots oppose Obamacare because they oppose all government entitlement programs. They don’t believe, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) have admitted, it’s the U.S. government role to provide retirement income and medical care to its citizens. White House and Democratic Congressional officials know what they’re up against in the current crisis.
No orderly government can function when an extremist minority can impose their will on the majority. Constitutional framers considered minority rights but didn’t intend to hand them the power to bully the majority. “If it [the shutdown] were prolonged, or repeated, people would begin to question the willingness of the United States to stay the course and its ability to,” said Kerry at an Asia-Pacific Economic conference in Bali, Indonesia. Shutting down the U.S. government directly threatens the economy and indirectly U.S. national security, de-funding the Homeland Security and National Security Administration. Any elected official, sworn to uphold the Constitution, should be cited with Contempt of Congress for deliberately harming the U.S. economy and national security to advance a political agenda. Dirty politics have no place for Constitutional duty-bound elected officials.
Damaging U.S. credibility overseas, the U.S. Congress must face the music of a single-minded minority’s attempt to de-fund Obamacare. If they really believe Obamacare is so damaging to the country, the GOP should offer to replace it with Medicare-for-all. Since 1965, it’s a proven national health care system for the elderly and disabled that could be easily expanded to cover the same uninsured target population as Obamacare. Watching a determined GOP minority shutdown the U.S. government exposes a dangerous flaw in the operation of Congress. If the White House and Congress can’t resolve the impasse, that’s why the framers created the federal courts. Damaging the U.S. domestic and foreign policy runs counter to any possible rationale for stopping Obamacare. Obama should instruct 62-year-old Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to file for injunctive relief in federal court.
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.