September 30, 2013
The US Republican Party is at it again--political grandstanding in their gun-to-the-Obama head style and turning brinksmanship into standard operating procedure on the Hill.
House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Barack Obama's signature healthcare reforms. The resolution passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives makes funding the government until the middle of December contingent upon a one-year delay of the Affordable Health Care Act. It also strips the new healthcare law, which is due to come into force on Tuesday, of a key tax on medical devices.
Senate Democrats and the White House have said that they will block any budget resolution that is tied to the healthcare law – the flagship legislative achievement of Obama's presidency – which was passed three years ago and upheld by the US supreme court last year. The Senate is expected to wait until Monday before stripping the Republican motion of its references to healthcare and, for the second time in a week, returning a "clean" bill to the House that would fund federal departments, without also impeding the introduction of mandatory healthcare for Americans who are uninsured. The Republicans may then try one more gambit to chip away at Obamacare, but time is growing short. The deadline is Monday at midnight.
This will be the first government shut down since 1996, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Clinton clashed over spending. That shutdown left a deep political scar, with Clinton's approval rating skyrocketing after the shutdown and Republicans shouldering much of the blame. This shutdown will have far reaching effects.
It's only a small faction of the GOP congressional caucus (30, to be exact) that wants to shut government down. The Republican Party is trying to sure that the working poor don't have access to affordable health care: or that rich people will see their taxes go up slightly in order to help non-rich people get decent access to medical care. The GOP, as a national party, will suffer because of using government shutdown to disrupt the implementation of Obama's healthcare.
The next standoff is raising the debt ceiling, which will have to be done in the next few weeks or the US government will default and possibly trigger a financial crisis that could go international. The GOPers are angling to prevent an expansion of the government's borrowing authority unless Obama agrees to accept deeper spending cuts, defund healthcare and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Not raising the debt ceiling means that the US ouldn't borrow more to pay for the spending Congress has already authorized. It would have to pay what we owe out of tax receipts and rolled-over debt instead. But as the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) points out, tax receipts and rolled-over debt would only cover 68 percent of our bills. So they'd have to cut the rest--- an immediate 32 percent austerity.
Basically the rightwing Republicans, are threatening that if they don’t get their way they’ll close down the government and cause the nation to default on its debts. Tea Party Republicans are part of a social movement that explicitly defends the interests of the rich and the almost-rich to de-tax themselves. The rhetoric is one of was selling the notion that if the rich bear less of the burden of government, all of us will somehow end up better off. The modern Tea Party demands that a congress and president—elected by the people—lack legitimacy and must reduce taxes, especially on business and owners of capital.
The minority Tea Party Republicans are doing so less than a year after its party lost the presidency, lost the Senate (and lost ground there), and held onto the House in part because of rotten-borough distortions. They are doing so even though the US is exceptional for being a place where 45,000 deaths a year are related to a lack of comprehensive health insurance coverage. That’s about ten 9/11′s worth of death each year because of the US's exceptional position as the only industrialized nation without a universal public health care system. The consequence is that medical bills are the country’s single largest cause of bankruptcy.