On May 17, 2010, I wrote a post entitled, The inmates are running the asylum. In that post, I pointed out that “…in the world of politics, seeking moderation in any way, shape, or form is considered to be a cardinal sin by Republicans and conservatives.”
Unfortunately, the inmates in the asylum known as Congress are, today, even crazier than they were three years ago. Is there no sanity at all remaining on Capitol Hill? Apparently not…at least not on the right side of the aisle. Has the GOP been so totally hijacked by its extremist Tea Party members that it would be willing to shut down the entire federal government rather than to fund the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? Apparently so.
The 49 House and five Senate Tea Party members of Congress are laser-focused on doing away with Obamacare. Their logic is that it is worth pushing the federal government into default unless the rest of Congress (i.e., not the Tea Party members) and the president agree to defund Obamacare.
Compromise? Negotiate? No way. Those words are not in the Tea Party vocabulary. These extreme conservatives and strict ideological libertarians are literally holding the federal government hostage.
So what’s the worst that could happen if the government shuts down? Well, according to a CBS website, a government shutdown on Tuesday could furlough…without pay…as many as 800,000 of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workers.
In addition, here is a list of other services that would be closed down and shut off to Americans if Republicans have their way:
- Any federal agency that’s subject to appropriations.
- All National Parks.
- All federally-funded museums, including the Smithsonian and the National Zoo.
- All federal government websites.
- Research by Health and Human Services stops. So does the grant process. Depending on how long it lasts, that will also impact medical research at hospitals and universities.
- Applying for Social Security. If you’re a new retiree, your application won’t be processed.
- IRS walk-in centers. Your paper tax return will not be processed.
- Loan applications for small businesses, college tuition, or mortgages.
- All Library of Congress buildings. All public events will be cancelled and web sites will be inaccessible.
- Federal contractors will be out of work.
- Federal workers (except “excepted” or “emergency” personnel) will not be allowed to work, not even from home. No blackberry, no smartphone, no laptop. Not even allowed to check work email.
- D.C. Government would also shut down, as it is subject to congressional appropriations and is considered “a federal agency.”
In addition to this list, if these Tea Party nutcases actually succeed in shutting down the government, the country’s credit rating will be lowered and, more important, the U.S. economic recovery would very likely be thrown off course and back into recession. From a global perspective, the U.S. will lose standing when the rest of the nations realize that a handful of extremists are able to bring the world's only superpower to its knees.
I am not naive enough to think that we should all just get along, but I am having a hard time understanding this lunacy. Obamacare is intended to provide access to health care benefits to those who don’t have it today. It mandates a certain minimum level of acceptable health coverage. It prevents people from not being able to get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. It enables dependent children up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ health plan. Obamacare ends lifetime limits to essential health care services, so that somebody who has medical complications isn’t stuck footing an enormous bill because they’ve exceeded their coverage.
Why is that so evil? Why are Republicans allowing the Tea Party to continue to impede lawmaking by wasting agenda time trying to repeal and/or defund a law that can help so many American citizens in need? Why are they willing to go to the extreme of shutting down the U.S. government and embarrassing our nation across the globe? If they are so dead-set against Obamacare, why haven’t they come up with a viable alternative to put on the table?
This damning and damaging Republican obstructionism will ultimately destroy our country if something isn’t done. The Tea Party doesn’t just want to limit government; it wants to weaken or destroy our representative democracy.
Bob Dylan wrote these lyrics 50 years ago. I don't hold out much hope that Congress ever will heed Dylan's call.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call.
Don’t stand in the doorway,
Don’t block up the hall.
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled.
There’s a battle outside
And it’s ragin.’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin.’