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The GOP Shutdown of 2013 is officially over. Sixteen days, $24 billion siphoned out of the economy, as well as a slow-down of the economic recovery, record low approval ratings for the Republican Party (lowest in modern history), and the looming threat of default on the national debt finally forced the hand of one of the most ineffective House Speakers in American history, John Boehner. He allowed a vote and got 87 Republicans to join the rest of us in reality to pass the Senate CR, a vote he could and should have held long before the shutdown lasted for over two weeks.
Yep, that’s right…after this fiasco and national embarrassment for Republicans, the majority of the Republican caucus (144) in the House voted to keep 800,000 people furloughed from their jobs, cancer treatments on hold, small businesses from getting vital government loans, women and children impoverished and billions of dollars bleeding out of the economy. That doesn’t even include their fetishistic willingness to breach the debt ceiling – which does not actually increase the deficit – and send the nation’s credibility global economy into free fall and most likely depression.
How has the GOP responded? Well, it’s complicated because the Republican Party is deeply fractured and in catastrophic disarray. Tea Party Republicans, all 144 of them in the House and 18 in the Senate, blamed the President for a shutdown that they literally campaigned on and fought hard to get and maintain. Nutcases like Representative Michele Bachmann have gone so far as to say that President Obama and the Democratically controlled Senate “wanted” the government shutdown. Don’t you see, America? We didn’t shut the government down as a result of our recklessness and extremism – it was all that Kenyan, Marxist’s fault!
As the President and many others have said, they put a gun to the head of country and even the global economy as leverage to defund the Affordable Care Act, a law that passed Congress in 2010, was upheld by the Supreme Court and helped re-elect President Obama in 2012. Here on planet Earth, the ACA is law, is gaining popularity and it isn’t going anywhere. But on unstable Planet Tea Party, elections don’t matter (as they’ve demonstrated by gerrymandering several House districts), health insurance regulations designed to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for several million Americans is just like Nazism and President Obama is just like Hitler…so therefore the government must shut down.
That’s not compromise. That’s extortion. You don’t get to shut down the federal government and send the global economy into depression just because you didn’t get your way in the presidential election or the ruling you wanted from the Supreme Court. You can’t set the country on fire like a band of raving pyromaniacs and prevent fire crews from extinguishing the flames, only to immediately claim you did not, in fact, set the fire.
Eighty-seven conservative Republican members of the House caucus denounced the extremism of the Tea Party and called on their delusional colleagues to see the light, end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Then they voted with their colleagues. Earlier this week when the Senate sent a CR to the House, Speaker Boehner refused to bring it to a vote. So much for bold leadership.
Based on Boehner’s laughably bad job as Speaker and the collective amnesia of Republicans in Washington, we can most likely expect this to repeat again early next year when funding the government and raising the debt ceiling are again issues that will probably bring the United States to its knees. Since 2011, governing via one self-imposed crisis to the next is how we do things. A fourth of the legislative branch thinks it is greater than all three branches combined. But, hey, It’s the American way, right?