Friday, October 18, 2013

A Lose-Lose Proposition

So, we're back from the brink. At least for another three months, then the whole cycle of madness starts again. I am, of course, talking about the debacle that was the Republican attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act and threatening to wreck the economy if they didn't get their way. I don't know what I can say about it that hasn't already been said by someone somewhere, but I just have to vent because keeping all that impotent rage bottled up always messes up my digestive system, which can prove embarrassing to everyone around me.

I don't know that I should expect any better of them, but I can't help but be utterly repulsed by things like John Boehner, shortly after the vote, going on some stupid radio program to babble nonsense about how Republicans fought the good fight but didn't win, then going on to say, "We did everything we could to get them to the table to negotiate… They just kept saying no. No, no, no.

Of course the Democrats said no! Is Boehner too stupid to understand why? Actually, he probably isn't. But he clearly thinks you are. And he may be right. I went to get my hair cut today, and one of the barbers was going on and on about how bad it's going to be for everyone when the ACA kicks in fully on Jan. 1, though he wasn't able to articulate any specifics. Ironically, this is a guy who had a quadruple bypass a couple years ago and might be facing a cap on benefits and an inability to get different insurance elsewhere, were it not for the provisions of ACA that now prohibit such insurance company practices. But that's just the way we think in this country, especially if we rely on sources like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News for "information". (As an example of the latter, see this article exposing Sean Hannity's extremely misleading "reporting" on the ACA on Fox News.)

Let's replay what happened here. In a nutshell: Obama put his Affordable Care Act before Congress. Congress approved it. Obama signed it into law. The Supreme Court confirmed it, with a few exceptions. A minority of House Republicans, egged on by the idiot Senator Ted Cruz, demanded that the ACA be defunded before the House would approve a continuing resolution on the budget and approve an increase in the debt ceiling. Boehner, fearing that it would cost him his job as Speaker if he did, refused to let the CR come to a vote, even though it was clear that enough Republicans would vote with the Democrats to pass it without any problem. The Democrats, following the principle that one should not negotiate with terrorists, refused to budge, and Boehner & Co. ultimately had to back down. So what do the Republicans have to show for this whole circus?

Well, they got a couple of very small face-saving concessions, like a requirement that the Department of Health and Human Services report to Congress on procedures to verify income of people who would get subsidies for health insurance. There was a guarantee to pay back pay to federal employees who were forced to work without pay while the government was partially shut down. Oh, and some pork. Who doesn't like pork? The Republicans can be glad they got anything, since at some point they themselves apparently didn't even know what they wanted any more, as illustrated by Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind., with Tea Party backing), who famously told the Washington Examiner, “We’re not going to be disrespected… We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

And what did the rest of us get? Well, we eventually got the government reopened. Also, according to Standard & Poors we got a reduction in GDP equivalent to around a $24 billion cost to the US economy—exactly the sort of thing we need right now. Remember when Boehner said this?

“Helping Americans get back to work is our number one priority, and we’re going to do everything we can to help create jobs and to boost our economy."

That was back in May, 2011. It's good to know that Boehner's job creation plan includes temporarily putting thousands of people out of work, threatening all the small businesses that depend on their patronage, creating the threat of a global financial crisis, and generally shoring up international investors' faith in US Treasury Bonds by demonstrating to the rest of the world that our government is capable of financial management on par with the governments of Greece or Cypress. It's a novel strategy. Good work, John.

Why didn't you just smack him with that thing while you had the chance?