We are rapidly approaching the October 1st deadline for congress to pass a budget resolution to keep government open for a while longer. Right behind that date will be the vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling. And if a growing segment of tea party Republicans have their way, government will shut down if Obamacare isn’t defunded as part of the resolution, or if defunding isn’t tied to raising the debt ceiling. Loud voices from the right are yelling for government to close shop until they get their way.
Now if government shuts down and inconveniences a lot of people, someone has to take the blame. Ted Cruz and some reactionary columnists, to include the MDJ, say that it will be the fault of the Democrats. The reason is so simple: the majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare to be implemented. Therefore the Democrats should be willing to compromise and at a minimum agree to delay implementation for a year so that both sides can come up with something better. Of course, when a majority of Americans wanted congress to close loopholes concerning the sale of firearms, they were ignored by our representatives as legislation to accomplish this went down in flames. But somehow that’s different. And our two senators from Georgia were among those that voted against the wishes of the majority.
Keep in mind that the Republicans in the six years they had the White House and both houses of congress only came up with Medicare Part D, the far more costly healthcare program than Obamacare. As part of the package they made sure that their benefactors were taken care of and banned the government from negotiating with pharmaceuticals for getting the best prices for drugs. There was no attempt made to overhaul healthcare for Americans.
In our republican form of government we elect representatives to vote for us. Like it or not, a majority, which happened to be all Democratic, passed the Affordable Healthcare Act. As part of the social contract and good citizenship to obey all laws and abide by the Constitution, to include court interpretations of both, until a law is changed through the democratic process it is the law of the land. To use extortion to overturn a law by threatening to shutdown the government if opponents don’t get their way is about as un-American as you can get.
What is confounding is how Republicans supported a universal healthcare law in the past. Newt Gingrich and the conservative Heritage Foundation were among the supporters. Obamacare was modeled on Mitt Romney’s plan for Massachusetts, but we know how that all played out. Today Massachusetts has only four percent of its populace that is uninsured. Georgia is close to twenty percent, and Ted Cruz’ state, Texas holds the record at twenty four percent. Meanwhile, those of us who have insurance are paying for those who don’t, many who claim that it’s their right not to have insurance but who will show up at the ER and expect to be treated on your nickel. On this point Romney was right---everyone should have skin in the game.
I’ve said it before in my commentaries that most Americans detest the tax code because of the gross inequities that have been insinuated into it over the years from special interests, and the overall unfairness of the code. We all have things that our tax money goes for that we personally object to. But part of our social contract is to accept the law of the land and change things through the democratic process. Those who support Ted Cruz may be the victims of the curse of the Greek gods: their wish could come true. And if it does, watch the effect on the economy. It will not be pleasant. Senator Isakson said on NPR a few months ago that a government shutdown wouldn’t happen. He will have to decide if statesmanship lies with supporting the tea party Republicans or those who think it madness to close shop over Obamacare.