The Little Faction That Could

We have met the enemy and he is us.

~ Pogo

The US Federal Government has been Shutdown for 8 days with no end in sight. This is both a tragedy and a “success story” for a small faction within the lower chamber of the US Congress. The Grand Old Party (GOP) controls one-third of one-half of the Federal Government; yet, they shutdown the entire Government to delay, defund or weaken the Affordable Care Act. The irony is that the Affordable Care Act is partially funded through Mandatory Spending; thus, the law went into affect on October 1st despite the Shutdown.

The interesting tidbit is that the Affordable Care Act was passed by the House and the Senate, signed by the President, affirmed by the Supreme Court, and reaffirmed by the American people via the President’s re-election. Mention these pesky facts to any elected Republican and they will regurgitate the talking points that “America elected a divided Government” or “the GOP won the House”.

Settled Law?

A little bit of School House Rock is useful at this point.

Law’s can be overturned by the Supreme Court or by Congress. One of two processes can be used to repeal a law:

  • The House and Senate pass a repeal bill. The President signs it.
  • The House and Senate pass a repeal bill. The President vetoes it. The Senate overcomes the veto with 2/3 of Senators voting on repeal.

So, if the Republicans genuinely want to repeal Obamacare they could win the Senate and the White House…or just pick up enough seats in the Senate to overcome a Presidential veto.

Cruz Control

Along came a snake oil salesman by the name of Ted Cruz. He grew up with a silver spoon and received an Ivy league education but claimed to be a common man. He sold his Tea Party friends on the idea that the Affordable Care Act could be defunded. He met secretly with House members and held a faux 21 hour filibuster to rally the troops to his cause. He made his troops believe the Democrats would cave to their demands at the threat of a Government Shutdown.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Cruz didn’t start this drama, he is merely a participant trying to raise his stock in hopes of running for President (Still waiting on his long form birth certificate). This drama has roots in the Citizens United case and the aspirations of the billionaire Koch brothers. One of the Koch brother’s organizations planned this Government Shutdown (talking points included) the day after President Obama started his second term. FreedomWorks, an organization funded by the Koch Brothers published a guide to “Honor Sequester Savings and Defund Obamacare“. There was a concerted effort, funded by billionaires and carried out by Tea Party House members to shutdown the government. Moreover, the Tea Party Patriots provided another defund Obamacare toolkits.

Making Bad Ideas Worse

Political leaders are currently at a stalemate. Speaker Boehner and Republicans refuse to pass a clean bill to open up the Government and Democrats and the White House refuse to negotiate to weaken the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans caused this disaster and hoped that the Dems would cave. This isn’t happening. The last time that the President responded to hostage-taking it only encouraged further and more extreme threats. Therefore, Speaker Boehner and the Republicans want to merge the Government Shutdown and the Debt Ceiling together.

The US is one of the few countries that votes twice on spending. Congress either passes a budget or continuing resolution that authorizes spending. The US currently runs a budget deficit so about 40% of spending is borrowed. Raising the debt ceiling enables the Government to pay for spending that has already been approved. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending. Nonetheless, Republicans don’t want to raise the debt ceiling unless they get their wish list:

  • Entitlement reform (Ryan Budget plan for Social Security and Medicare)
  • Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Tax Reform (Lower corporate tax rates and eliminate deductions)
  • Weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Delay Obamacare for one year
  • Increase oil drilling
  • Cut $120 Billion from federal health spending
  • Block federal regulations of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Restrict federal industry regulation

So, the Republicans are governing as though they won the 2012 election and control the House and the Senate. Except, this isn’t the case. The GOP wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act but they just might need to repeal reality first.