When the Republican-controlled House of Representatives finally approved bills to raise the debt ceiling and to reopen the federal government, voices near and far swore up and down that such a thing would never happen again. Senate Minority Leader Mitch O’Connell declared, “There is no education in the second kick of the mule.” He further stated that, “There will not be a government shutdown. I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is.”
In the midst of the government shutdown, Daily Kos ran a piece nearer to the truth, stating that the shutdown unnerved “serious” Republicans, such as Senator O’Connell, because of the damage the shutdown might do to the party, not the country. Poll numbers shortly after the shutdown ended validated those fears.
So for party or country, “establishment” Republicans declare that they have sworn off government shutdowns and debt ceiling crises, right? Ha. Don’t you believe it.
Obstruction is the still the most potent weapon Republicans have to get their own way on things. It’s not one that will be retired too readily. Need proof? Remember the filibuster? It’s back! Senator Lindsay Graham has threatened to hold up the nominations of Janice Yellen for Fed Chief and Jeh Johnson for Homeland Security Secretary unless the administration finally answers all questions related to the attacks on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Heaven only knows what other questions could the Senator have. Furthermore, judicial nominations have stalled out, again, with fights brewing over appointments to the powerful DC Circuit Court of Appeals. So while House Republicans have acquiesced for the moment, Senate Republicans have taken up the obstruction baton again.
Actually, House Republicans have gone back to their standard operating procedure of doing nothing. House leadership recently announced the chamber’s “work” schedule for 2014: 113 days, down from 126 days this year, though up from the 107 days worked in 2012. My dad told me a story of when he first started working. He said that his bosses liked the work he did, but that they did not like his absenteeism. Even if you do good work — which the House largely hasn’t since Boehner became Speaker — you can’t do good work if you don’t show up. My dad learned that lesson in his 20s. Apparently House Republicans, in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, still have not.
Republicans failed to dislodge President Obama in the 2012 election. They failed to take over the Senate. They only succeed at skullduggery: filibustering, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. Speaking of voter suppression, for a time even former House Speaker Jim Wright could not get the necessary ID to vote in Texas in Tuesday’s election. If a former Speaker of the House couldn’t even get a voter ID card, without headlines and much indignation, what chance has the average citizen?
President Obama wants to restart work on comprehensive immigration reform. His efforts are noble, but futile. The few Republicans who might want to join him in this work will be thwarted by the multitude who wish to do nothing. Long sought for budget negotiations have finally commenced. But don’t look for them to solve any problems or break any barriers.
I see nothing coming from the Republican Congressional leadership to indicate that they are willing to work with the president or Democrats to do any of the country’s work. For example, Republicans are too busy bashing the Affordable Care Act rather than working to fix it. The plan, as many have noted, is based on conservative ideas and in fact mimics the same plan then-Governor Mitt Romney deployed in Massachusetts years ago. Standing at Governor Romney’s side to support the new plan during its rocky rollout was none other Senator Ted Kennedy. I don’t see Senator Mitch O’Connell standing next to President Obama touting the importance of Obamacare.
My way or the highway. By hook or by crook. These are the mottos of today’s Tea Party infested Republican Party. As long as the infestation remains, there is no hope of a functioning government any time soon. So watch out. Come late January, early February 2014, we’ll all be scratching our heads wondering how the government could be shutdown again and how the whole world could be teetering on economic disaster again.
Only we shouldn’t be scratching out heads wondering anything. It should be painfully obvious why the country will be on the brink of disaster again.
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