For eight long years we had to live with Junior Bush's confused-but-belligerent-cowboy style of governing, watching the Republican-controlled Congress go along with his excesses as if he could do no wrong. With their collusion, two wars, a new Medicare benefit, and tax cuts were “put on the credit card.” Vice President Cheney proclaimed that deficits didn't matter.
We can blame Bush for that, but not for dismantling all the
safeguards on investment practices put in place after the Great
Depression. Some of that was done under Bill Clinton's watch.
As the pop of the bubble loomed, Sen. Barack Obama ran for
president on a progressive program to end the two Bush wars, finally
pass health care, and reduce the gridlock in Congress by working with
the Republicans. The bubble popped, and he won.
Despite the distraction of the worst recession in two
generations, he made good progress on the first two goals, but
getting along with the GOP eluded every effort he made. I think it
was because of his African heritage, but whatever the reason, he
could do absolutely nothing right from the Republican point of view.
They simply hated him from the first.
The Senate and the House started work on health care. I watched
it go on for months on C-SPAN. The Republicans fought every inch of
the way. They did not want health care.
As the battle dragged on, the GOP health plan became clear: 1.
Establish health savings accounts that would be offered by, and
provide easy profits for, their friends the bankers. 2. Allow people
to purchase health care nationally, thus reducing regulation to the
weakest insurance commission in the 50 states. 3. Reform malpractice
laws, thus hurting their enemies, trial lawyers. In addition to those
three demands, they spent many hours telling their colleagues how
illegal aliens were going to get health care and abortions would be
provided under the Democratic plan, thus scaring their base with its
two greatest bugaboos, with no regard to the actual contents of the
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which they
quickly labeled “Obamacare,” passed without any GOP help at all.
Then the Tea Party showed up to bemoan fiscal irresponsibility, only
eight years too late. Regressive Republicans gained seats in the
mid-term election, and they started trying to reverse the
legislation. They filed suit claiming it was unconstitutional.
Americans soon got their fill of teabags, despite whose best
hopes and efforts the Supreme Court ruled the act constitutional and
President Obama was re-elected on a platform of full implementation
of what he, too, was now calling Obamacare.
The teabags lost seats in the 2012 election, but not enough
seats. They have managed to install a boot on the tire of Congress
that has been effective despite their waning popularity. There is
still a strong core of Fox News bubbleheads to encourage their
efforts, although that cohort's median age continues to rise. The
brief Republican anti-Obama surge hit before the last election, and
gave them a leg up on redistricting, but their popularity is sinking
so quickly that even many of the seats they thought safe for a decade
are now in play.
Apparently, that means it's time for last-ditch efforts. The
House majority has demonstrated its unrelenting contempt for health
care, and last week voted for all practical purposes to shut the
government down if it's not stopped.
Luckily, that bill has to go to the Senate, where cooler heads
allegedly reside. The Senate will pass its own version, which will
put Obamacare back in, but it may take some time. Freshmen GOP and
Tea Party senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Hill of Utah, with
erratic support from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, plan to do what they
can to block health care.
Then it will go back to the House, where God knows what will
happen. If it passes, the president will sign it right away; if it
doesn't, we face another shutdown.
Any legislation to avoid the shutdown must be enacted before
October 1st. And even if it is avoided, thus setting up Congress for
another showdown in just a few weeks, government agencies will have
spent much time and money preparing for it. What a foul way to
The Republicans ran in 2012 with the motto “Repeal and
Replace,” and they have been criticized since then for not having a
plan to replace Obamacare. Well, finally there was a breath of fresh
air from the House GOP, which released a plan created by a special
committee. Guess what's in it.
That's right: establish health savings accounts, allow people to
purchase health insurance nationally, and reform malpractice laws.
Nancy Pelosi called the “shut-'er-down” policy of the teabags
“legislative arson.” It's more likely to become self-immolation
if those cooler heads don't prevail.
Whatever happens, it will be followed in short order by yet
another crisis manufactured by the Republicans: Does the United
States of America run out on its debt?
What a foul way to govern!