Monday, October 07, 2013

Bullsh*t Down

The decision not to pass a Continuing Resolution ("CR") to keep the United States Government running timed out perfectly with the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance coverage marketplaces.  Instead of the big story being the start of something that has and will continue to help tens of millions of Americans get more affordable health coverage (with pre-existing conditions, without annual limits, with 80% of premiums going to coverage and not administration, etc.) the big story is the House of Representative refusal to vote to fund the government without ridiculous, superfluous attachments, thereby shutting down Our government, or at least a large portion of it.  The inconvenient and ironic truth is the launch of the Affordable Care Act's marketplace continues to go ahead as planned.  Millions of Americans flooded marketplace sites to sign up or just for information.  Sign ups were higher than expected.   The New York health exchange website received 30 Million visits.  The savings success stories are already coming in. There were plenty of glitches too.  Those were expected. What program, especially as large as the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, does not have glitches in the beginning?    The republican controlled House of Representatives could pass a "clean" continuing resolution to keep the US government running.  They have the votes to pass it.  But the republican speaker of the House will not allow it to come up for a vote.  Instead this "leader" and the House majority that he "leads" are letting 30 extremely rigid, in their ideology, right wing republicans lead him into a government shut down by attaching a bill defunding  the Affordable Care Act, a law which was debated and negotiated for 14 months, was voted on and approved by the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, was signed into LAW by the President of the United States of America, was upheld in the United States Supreme Court, and was a central issue in the 2012 Election which saw the candidate that did NOT want to "repeal Obamacare on day one" win by over 5 million votes and the party that wanted the Affordable Care Act to proceed gained seats in Both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The republicans, who back in the day came up with a lot of the ideas that are in the law, including the individual mandate, lost.

These 30 republican congresspeople, and their 19 senatorial sympathizers, will not accept the loss.  The problem (well, one of the problems) for these sore losers is after spending tens of millions on 41 votes to repeal (not fix, but repeal and/or defund) in the House of Representatives, they are no closer to repealing the existing law, that still has yet to go into full effect.  They can not succeed within our Democratic system (see previous paragraph).  So what do they do?  They attach it to something the government can not function without, a continuing resolution to fund the government.  I have heard people spew reasoning like "DOMA was the law of the land", inferring that people like me had no problem with overturning that law of the land.  True. We don't always like the law of the land, but those laws are overturned through the proper democratic channels. DOMA, for instance, was overturned by the Judicial Branch of Our government, namely, the United States Supreme Court.  A repeal or defunding of DOMA was not attached to a Conituning Resolution to fund the US Government nor was it attached to raising the debt ceiling, which is coming up in a couple of weeks.  The US Economy was not held hostage in the give us what we want or you get nothing way these republicans in the House of Representatives are using their defunding of the Affordable Care Act.  Children with Cancer were not denied medical trials, National Parks were not closed, 800,000 American Workers weren't sent home indefinitely without pay (more than Target, General Motors, Exxon, and Google combined), Veteran's Affairs, the EPA, the SEC, the FDA, NASA, the Center for Disease Control and on and on were not shuttered until the losers got what they wanted.  As trusted newsman John Stewart said "Did you see the Giants game?  They lost to the Chiefs 31-7 on Sunday. You know what the Giants didn't say after that game? If you don't give us 25 points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the [Bleep] NFL".

The republicans are out in front of the cameras and in their silly internet memes saying they want to negotiate but the big bad President and his buddies in the Democratic Party won't talk to them.  Of course, this is after six months during which they denied 18 conferences offers from the Democratic Minority in the House of Representatives.  Not to mention the negotiations between the republicans, Democratic Party members, including the President, before the Affordable Care Act became a law as well as the last two times this republican house majority has held their breathe and held the us economy hostage to get what they want (see the sequester that is still cutting from those in need) Not that they want to negotiate the continuing resolution that they refuse to vote "cleanly" on to continue funding the government in full.  No.  They want to negotiate the 2010 LAW that was already negotiated and they can not repeal using traditional Democratic procedure. The shutdown they have caused by refusing to allow a vote on a clean continuing resolution to continue funding the government is estimated to cost the economy $300 MILLION a day and has started to effect the way the world sees Us as well.

Perhaps the most infuriating republican response to the shut down is the "what's the big deal?  A few museums are closed" line.  You may have heard about the heroes that took a trip to Washington DC to see the memorial to their heroism and the heroism of others at the WWII Memorial only to find it closed due to the shut down.  Of course, the heroes heroically bypassed the barricades with the help of a congressperson who helped to shut the government down.  Good for them, right?  As long as they clean up after themselves, for there is no maintenance staff.  Which is a good and valid response for those who ask "why am I locked out of Federal lands, just because the Federal government is shut down?"  Well, parks don't maintain themselves.  Litter doesn't pick up itself.  Trails don't clear themselves.  Information, guide and medical stations in National Parks are not all self help. Campgrounds, bathroom facilities, etc. in National Parks are also not self-maintaining.  There are many examples of work being done by American workers, Federal in this case, that are taken for granted.  Imagine if the Federal workers, commonly known as Air Traffic Controllers, were not exempt from the shut down.  All air traffic in the United States would be grounded.  Are Federal government workers necessary?  You decide.  More than anything else it's the absence of empathy for 800,000 american workers, for poor people relying on the Women, Infant, and Children ("WIC") program, for veterans, for children in Head Start that goes beyond what I would consider unAmerican.  It is immoral. I hate to once again quote News Anchor John Stewart but his response to the dis-compassionate, self proclaimed Christians in the grand Old party gleefully happy about the shut down is just too perfect.  "Fuck You!".  Fuck you, you callous, devoid of empathy and compassion for your fellow American or fellow human, insulated asshole.  Fuck you, gentle lady or gentle man from the right side of the republicans in the House of Representatives.  Fuck you republicans in the House of Representatives to afraid to break from their extreme, mostly freshmen, congresspeople who have wanted to shut down the government from the start, except when it has to do with what Americans do in their bedroom.  And Fuck you to the feckless speaker and his Freshman Senator overlord.  But what should Jon Stewart and I expect from these republicans in the House of Representatives, who voted to cut tens of Billions from food stamps for poor Americans (seniors, children, and veterans included) while continuing huge subsidies for the Agriculture Industry (see monsanto, et al)?  What should I expect from republicans in the House of Representatives who have only fought FOR tax cuts for rich and subsidies for industries that don't need them?

Speaking of tax cuts for rich people expiring, another "point" I've heard uttered is "How are we supposed to pay for these subsidies to help Americans have health insurance?".  The alternative being Americans fending for themselves without assistance, not getting the care they need and dealing with the consequences or relying on emergency rooms  (which we pay for) after something happens. A funny thing happened this June.  The United States of America posted a Budget Surplus.  A big portion of which is due to tax cuts for Americans making over $400,000 per year have expired.  That and this may explain how we can afford it.

So just to sum up, the United States Law titled "the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)" (nicknamed Obamacare by those who hope it as well as the US economy fails under President Obama) does not need to be attached to the Continuing Resolution to continue funding the United States of America.  It has been attached to black mail the President of the United States, the United States Senate, and the Democratic Minority in the United States House of Representatives.  A clean continuing resolution has and has had the votes to pass.  The Affordable Care Act and the additional laundry list of demands made by these republicans in the House of Representatives are controversial issues, which have been debated and can continue to be debated but have no place being attached to a Continuing Resolution on government funding.  They have been attached like hostages taken by a desperate criminal trying to get out of an impossible situation he/she has created.  In this case, that situation is actually governing.  It and they have been attached by those who have lost at every turn of the Democratic Process, and can no longer function within it.  Or as, [I hope] future (2020) Presidential Candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren recently put it
"In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can’t otherwise win their fights through elections, can’t win their fights in Congress, can’t win their fights for the Presidency, and can’t win their fights in Courts," "For this right-wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left – a last gasp of those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy."
Did I mention the House of Representatives is still getting paid?