What Just Happened?Posted: October 17, 2013
It turns out it is impossible for me to resist writing about the recent shenanigans in the House of Representatives. I did not intend to write more about it as it seems self-evident to me as to what occurred, but here I am writing none-the-less. I’ll try to be brief in addressing two main points.
I think what we just experienced is primarily a battle for the future of the Republican Party. I feel strongly that we need a vibrant two-party system as part of the checks and balances inherent in our way of government. For this citizen, I hope that the mainstream Republicans in the Senate and the House prevail over the Tea Party zealots that prefer ideological purity over actually running the country. To this observer, it seems a lot like fundamentalists trying to take over our nation. Thankfully the cooler heads in the Senate prevailed, which actually is not unusual in the history of our legislative process and a reflection of the way it was intended to be done. The House tends to be more impetuous and the Senate tends to be the more deliberate body willing to look at long-term impacts rather than the fad of the moment. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule on both ends of the equation, but generally the system works. It worked this time, but it took way too long. Time will tell what this all means for the future, but I hope that the fundamentalists in the House have figured out that Senator Ted Cruz is not the Speaker of the House. In my view, Ted Cruz really is only out for himself and has merely hitched a ride with the Tea Party in order to gain attention for self-promotion. The majority of Republicans in the House and Senate need to stand up to Cruz and his kind and appeal to the large majority of us that take a middle of the road approach.
I’m no fan of his, but kudos to Senator Mitch McConnell who is fighting his own re-election challenge from the far right. He was missing in action for far too long, but got it done in the end. Hopefully the experience for both he and Senator Harry Reid will lead to some productive efforts to straighten out the problems that we face in a bi-partisan manner.
My second thought has to do with opposition to Obamacare which, ostensibly, was the reason for the shutdown. For now I will ignore the view that simply because it was championed by President Obama that there was visceral opposition to it regardless of its possible merits. Instead I have several thoughtful colleagues that worry that our country cannot afford it. This is a more reasoned argument and one that needs to be further explored. As I have said in earlier posts, I do not believe that Obamacare will be trouble-free — no undertaking of such magnitude can be counted upon to be trouble-free. However, the fixes should be well thought out and not attempts at outright sabotage to ensure its failure. But I digress. While I do not accept that the Affordable Care Act will be the ruin of our country, either socially or economically, let me concede for arguments sake that it may put a burden on our national finances. I still do not get the logic behind the reasoning that what may (may) be a burden over the long haul — several years into the future — needs to be “fixed” by destroying the nation’s economy now. That is what many Tea Party supporters and Congressmen tried to do with the run-up to the current Continuing Resolution (CR). Some still say it would have been worth it and given the chance, they would do it again. I do not get it. While I am no Nobel Prize winning economist, I do understand what the Nobel Prize winning economists are saying, along with financial experts of every stripe and leading CEOs of major corporations. All indications were that a failure to extend the debt ceiling would over time have a catastrophic impact on our economy and destroy any chance for a continued recovery. Even those staunchly opposed to Obamacare were appalled that the Tea Party Republicans would be willing to cripple our nation economically in order to stop it. I will never understand it. Never. Such an approach runs counter to everything that I understand as a patriotic American. If every one of us acted this way to oppose laws that we disagree with (and there is probably some significant law that most Americans oppose and it is unlikely that it is the same one) then we would be a nation without laws and anarchy would prevail.
I just do not understand how people who say they love their country actually hate it so much that they are willing to risk destroying it to get what they want.