Die Harder

The Republican Party finally accomplished something!  Sure, it may not have been the passing of a new jobs bill or funding for our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, but not every Republican-controlled House can say they shut down the government!

House Speaker John Boehner

As of October 1st, our government shut down for the first time in 17 years.  The shutdown was a result of Congressional Republicans taking the nation’s budget captive in trade for the defunding of Obamacare.

This may sound familiar, because the GOP used a similar Die Hard inspired tactic during negotiations over the raising of the debt ceiling.  Using the debt ceiling as a hostage, Republicans refused any tax increases for the wealthiest Americans in exchange for a raised limit on the debt ceiling.  Although the deal proved detrimental to our nation, Mitch McConnell referred to the exchange as setting a “new template.”

Mitch McConnell

Using that template, Tea Party Republicans took the nation’s budget hostage in exchange for the defunding of Obamacare… even going as far to threaten a government shutdown (which is just what happened).

What Senator Ted Cruz and his fellow members of this insane faction of the GOP fail to understand is that nothing can stop Obamacare, including a shutdown. This was not more evident than yesterday, on the first day of the shutdown, when the Obamacare Marketplace went live online.

Refusing to acknowledge the fact that the Affordable Care Act has successfully passed through all three branches of government while ignoring warnings from the President and Senate that a budget altering the landmark healthcare law would be tossed aside still did not prevent House Republicans from including such a measure in EVERY House-approved budget.

Boehner and Minion

So, what did the GOP get for their shutdown?  In my home state of Iowa, the WIC federal food program has ceased service.  The service, which offers vouchers for food items, served 2,759 people in Johnson County alone last month.

If the government shutdown continues through October, it is estimated that it will affect 66,000 people statewide.

On the national scale, 1.3 million “essential” federal workers will still report for work but could see delays in their paychecks.  Another 800,000 “non-essential” federal workers have been furloughed and may not even receive back pay once the government is running again.  Maryland, where many federal workers reside, could potentially lose $5 million dollars a day in income and sales tax revenue due to the furlough.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped adding “support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance.”  Did the Republicans time this to coincide with flu season, or was this just a happy bonus?  Speaking of which, the CDC responds they will be “unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program.”

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Department for Veterans’ Affairs has already anticipated that without a new budget, they will likely run out of funding to pay disability claims and pension payments if the shutdown lasts 2-3 weeks.

When asked by NPR if Republicans used the “right tactics” (the tactics being those that resulted in the government shutdown and did not harm Obamacare) during budget talks, GOP Rep. David Schweikert responded: “I actually believe they were.”

Rep. Schweikert is so far up his own ass he should join the Jim Rose Circus.

Jim Rose Circus

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann was in a more celebratory mood in the final days leading to a shutdown when she told the Washington Post “We’re very excited.”  I think we can all agree as a life rule that once something has Bachmann’s approval, it’s likely a bad idea.

I don’t know what is stronger within the House Republicans, the complete lack of empathy or the detachment from reality.

On ABC’s “This Week.” Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen reminded GOP Rep. Tom Graves that the Republican budget passed through the House maintains the savings accumulated from Obamacare, while also defunding the healthcare reform law.  That is one hell of a pickle.

Rep. Van Hollen is referencing the $716 billion in Medicare savings and the $1.2 trillion in taxes originating from the healthcare legislation.

Although the GOP may have finally embraced the crazy, they also haven’t forgotten how much they hate women having sex.  In Sunday’s House-approved budget (which would have delayed the implementation of Obamacare), the GOP included a “conscience clause,” which allows employers the option to no longer provide coverage for services they find religiously or morally objectionable (Goodbye, female birth control!).   This made headlines last year when it was proposed as the Blunt Amendment, which was voted down by the Senate last March.

The Republicans may want to start paying attention to public opinion rather than their own consistently failed sexist legislation.  A recently released poll from Quinnipac University reveals:

  • 74% of voters disapprove of the job Republicans in Congress are doing.
  • 72% of voters disapprove of a government shutdown to block Obamacare.
  • 58% of voters disapprove defunding Obamacare to prevent implementation.

Shortly before the shutdown was to go into effect, House Republicans suggested a conference committee between the House and the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected the meeting unless the House Republicans could pass a six-week resolution to avoid a shutdown. Naturally, the GOP did not do it.

Congressional Democrats had previously requested a conference committee 18 times with Republicans since April.  All 18 requests were rejected.

Last Thursday, President Obama responded to Ted Cruz and the threat of a shutdown: “Just the other day, one Republican said we need to shut this thing down before the marketplaces open and people get to see that they’ll be getting coverage and getting these subsidies because – and I’m going to quote him here – he said, ‘It’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare.’  So, in other words, we’ve got to shut this thing down before people find out they like it.”

Barack Obama

Even though Cruz and House Republicans have failed in preventing Obamacare from moving forward, that (strangely) hasn’t stopped them from attempting to stop the law… even at the expense of the very people that they are supposed to serve.

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