As of this writing, the United States government is shut down. Congress has failed to pass a single appropriation bill to fund government operations. As painful as this is for government workers who are sent home and for those who need some of the services that will not be available, the real crisis is yet to come. Around October 17th, the Treasury Department says the United States runs out of the ability to pay its bills. If the debt ceiling is not raised, the U.S. can be declared in default...its credit rating downgraded...global money markets in chaos...the fragile U.S. economic recovery threatened and all of this because regressive Republicans admit losing the White House and the Senate has left them with little to no leverage to force their political agenda on the American people.
The Republicans don't like the Affordable Care Act. They want the Keystone pipeline built. They want to roll back environmental regulations on new power plants that burn coal. They want to cut billions of dollars in food stamps, cut taxes on the 1% and prevent 20 to 30 million Americans from getting access to health insurance for the first time. Since they do not have the votes to accomplish any of these goals, they are willing to jeopardize the economy and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs by holding the debt-ceiling hostage. If you needed the definition of a circular firing squad, they have provided it in spectacular living color.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah claim the Affordable Care Act "could" kill American jobs. (The Congressional Budget Office says a government shutdown or debt ceiling default "will" put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work.) They say the American people don't want the Act to go into effect. (OK, then let it happen and crush the Democrats in the 2014-midterm elections and win back the White House in 2016...that is if you believe your own rhetoric.) They argue the Affordable Care Act will explode the deficit. (Numerous studies show the biggest threat to the deficit, and future economic health, is the exponential growth of health care costs. Since the Act passed Congress, health care costs have risen at their slowest rate in over 30 years) Regressives scream about Congress and its staff being exempted from the Act and keeping their current benefits. (They are so right about this...this is a disgrace...members of Congress and their staffs should be treated like any other American and live within the strictures of this new health care world. This exemption has to be reversed just out of fairness and for no other reason.) Attaching defunding this Act to either a budget bill or as a condition for raising the debt ceiling, or adding a full Christmas tree worth of attachments and demands in return for increasing the ceiling, shows how elitist and out of touch these regressives and their Tea Party minions truly are. Threatening the economic health of the nation, costing people jobs, because it's the only "leverage" you have, is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps regressive opposition to an expansion of health care access wouldn't seem so crass and cynical if they offered up an alternative vision and let the two compete in the election marketplace. Unfortunately, "they" have nothing to offer. When asked about the provision prohibiting insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage, Sen. Cruz, during his 20 hour verbal diarrhea on the Senate floor, opined the "market place must be reformed." Huh? When asked about letting children stay on their parent's insurance up to age 26...about capping how much insurance companies can charge due to catastrophic illness...about eliminating caps on how much insurance companies have to pay to cover an illness...about expanding Medicaid so 20 million more Americans have access to a doctor (eliminating the use of emergency rooms as health clinics and dramatically reducing costs to hospitals and taxpayers)...Cruz, Lee et.al. are silent and bring nothing to the table except talk of medical savings accounts and selling insurance across state lines.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to explain why Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and his second in command Texas Senator John Cornryn, publically oppose the tactics of Cruz and Lee and their fellow crazies in the House. They understand destroying the village to save it is not a good political platform for future electoral success. The Wall Street Journal, no radical liberal rag, is against any attempt to "leverage" the budget agreement or debt ceiling increase. (hell, the Wall Street Journal editorial page makes the Koch brothers look like Commies) If I might offer a word of advice...go for it guys. Shut the government down and cause the government to default and cripple our credit rating knowing you can't defund the health care act. Fall on your swords. Come on you can do it. (to quote Rob Schneider) Take us all down with you as you put principle ahead of pragmatism.