It’s official: The crazies are in charge of U.S. House
— September 24, 2013
After the past week, we have to hand it to most Republicans in the U.S. House — and by “it,” I mean their walking papers.
They voted for the 42nd time to defund Obamacare — even though they know their bill has absolutely no chance of passing the Senate or being signed by the president — and threatened to shut down the federal government. They have no qualms about not paying the nation’s debts, which could wreck our economy and the rest of the world’s along with it.
House Republicans capped off their week of madness by voting to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program, literally taking food out of the mouths of millions of poor Americans, including children. All but 15 Republicans, who stood with House Democrats, voted for the cuts. I never thought I’d say this, but whatever happened to the party of George W. Bush, the “compassionate conservative” who expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?
There is no compassion in most of the conservative movement anymore. It’s been replaced by Tea Party nonsense, spouted by politicians who believe the federal government is so inherently bad that its power needs to be decimated, no matter how many Americans are harmed in the process.
If their actions weren’t so insane, it would be funny, because this is the strategy many Republicans actually believe will propel them back into power in 2014. If their opponents didn’t care about the country and wanted the Grand Old Party to sink into the oblivion it so richly deserves, they could call their bluff and let Americans decide whom to blame.
Polls show that when the Republican House leadership refused to raise the debt ceiling last year, voters blamed the party for causing the nation’s credit rating to be downgraded and the subsequent huge drop in the stock market. Despite all of the obstacles the do-nothing House put in his way, Democrat Barack Obama won a second term when voters rebuked the extreme right wing of the Republican Party by shooting down its nominee, Mitt Romney, and his noxious campaign to reward the rich at the expense of impoverished Americans.
Republicans used gerrymandering to keep control of the House, and simply pretended that Democratic wins in the Senate and White House didn’t happen. They’ve doubled down on the strategy that they will save America by repealing Obamacare, completely ignoring the fact that its best components have already helped insure more Americans. Eliminating pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on benefits, and extending family coverage of adult children, are all positive steps, but the Republican propaganda machine ludicrously keeps casting the Affordable Health Care Act as the nation’s boogeyman.
Obamacare needs to be improved, not destroyed. It has had unintended negative effects on employment, largely because greedy corporations have either eliminated jobs or cut back workers’ hours to get out of paying for their health insurance plans. If Republicans were willing to work with Democrats to fix the problems, like they did to fix early flaws in Medicare and Social Security, they could likely be solved. But the GOP hasn’t coalesced behind a single plan of its own, and instead is using all of its energy to take away Obama’s major accomplishment of his first term.
If you live in a state whose leaders have tried their best to implement Obamacare, you will probably have reduced health insurance costs. If you live in a state like Wyoming, which has done its best to block Obamacare and keep it from being effective, you will likely pay a lot more.
The Republicans who control the House fundamentally believe that Americans are so stupid, they will reward them at the polls for 1) trying to end the biggest improvement to affordable health care in our nation’s history; 2) blowing our chances for economic recovery by shutting down the federal government at the worst possible time; and 3) disgracing our country in the world’s eyes by not paying the debts we have already incurred.
I have no doubt that some Republicans passionately believe that Obamacare will be so bad for the country, the terrible consequences of a government shutdown that could play out because of their actions are worth it. I also have no doubt that these people are pathologically mean-spirited nuts who are incapable of truly comprehending the damage they are doing.
Take the wretched cut in food stamps, which are used by 47 million people, or about one in seven Americans. We’ve spent trillions of dollars on unnecessary wars during the past decade, and blown up other countries and rebuilt them using a system with massive amounts of unchecked fraud, abuse and waste, but we can’t afford to provide a safety net to feed our own people?
At only 7 percent, Wyoming has the lowest percentage of its population receiving food stamp assistance in the entire country. The fact that our state’s poverty rate is going up at the same time our food stamp benefits have been kept low shows that Wyoming is already allowing only the most needy of its citizens to receive nutrition assistance. But under the bill passed by the House — which our own congresswoman, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, voted for — many in that pool of people who desperately need our help will go hungry.
These federal lawmakers represent us. It’s in our name that they are doing these terrible things that harm our people, cities, states and the nation. Most of the rest of the world has universal health coverage so its people aren’t bankrupted by illness, and can’t fathom why many American politicians are so hell-bent to replace Obamacare and keep a health care system that doesn’t work.
I agree with the Tea Partiers in one sense: it is time to take back our country. It’s time we take it back from them, because they’ve managed to split the Republican Party so bad that there’s no room in it for moderates anymore — the people who for decades have managed to bring conservatives and liberals together to get some good things accomplished.
So let’s all keep a close eye on what House Republicans do when the Sept. 30 deadline hits to either have a budget passed or shut down the government, and at the end of October, when the U.S. has to decide if it’s going to do the honorable thing and raise the debt ceiling again. Let us hope that Democrats (and independent Bernie Sanders, bless him) in the Senate can stave off the House’s crazy plan before it leaves millions of our countrymen and women in misery, wondering how they’re going to pay their rent or mortgage, or if their family will eat that night.
Anyone who votes for the House leadership’s crazy plan needs to be sent packing in 2014.
— Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake is the editor-in-chief of The Casper Citizen, a nonprofit, online community newspaper. It can be viewed at www.caspercitizen.com.
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