Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Going Down Swinging, Wildly

Even though much of the political media will be hyperventilating every day this week, and for the foreseeable future - or at least until both the Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling issues are settled - we honestly don't think there's that much to freak about, yet. As we noted last Friday, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent pretty much laid out the roadmap for how the CR will move around Capitol Hill this week, and so far, he's been right.

Even before the week began, it was obvious that the efforts of the arrogant, self-absorbed, Ivy League tea party Republican Sen. Ted Cruz would fail. As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began using the Senate rules on Monday to clean the CR, and send it back to the House.

Not surprisingly, neither the rules or reality stopped Cruz from wildly swinging around his ludicrous and increasingly desperate ideas to "defund Obamacare", as he did in his Monday op-ed at Real Clear Politics. Those unrealistic ideas, however, only served to give his fellow Republicans a splitting political headache that succeeded in calling even more attention to the ongoing civil war within the Republican Party.

All this wild flailing by Congressional Republicans wouldn't be nearly so bad if they were simply willing to admit publicly what other well-known members of their party like former Sen. Judd Gregg or writer Josh Barro already have: That the Obamacare "defunders" are playing Russian roulette with their own party, and Republicans still don't have a real, passable alternative to Obamacare, three-and-a-half years after President Obama and Democrats passed their plan into law.

For their part, the American people are overwhelmingly not interested in defunding Obamacare, as a CNBC poll on Monday stated - and Greg Sargent confirmed through a stack of other polls. Only the radical extremist tea party types on the far right still want to shut down the government - an action that wouldn't stop the further implementation of Obamacare even if they were successful. In fact, as Annie Lowrey pointed out Monday afternoon, a federal government shutdown wouldn't affect mandatory spending - including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance, among other government priorities.

There are a few noticeable items that would stop, though.

Unlike when the Republicans shut down the government in the mid-1990s, the military appropriations bill has yet to pass this time - so all members of the military will stop receiving paychecks immediately, if the government shuts down. They'll still be required to work - they just won't get their pay right away.

For Americans living in DC itself, the stench of a shutdown could get bad real quick, as garbage collection would also immediately shut down in our nation's capitol.

Still, as bad as a temporary government shutdown might seem, the looming battle over the debt ceiling is far more worrisome for us, and for anyone who truly understands the situation in Washington. That includes President Obama, who has made it abundantly clear that he will not be held hostage by Congressional Republicans this time over their responsibility to pay the debts Congress has already accrued - which is what the debt ceiling is.

If Republicans continue waving around suicidal actions over the debt ceiling like they'e doing now over the potential government shutdown, we'll be very worried then. For now, we continue watching fools like Sen. Cruz going down, swinging wildly, only politically injuring his own party members.