Now that President Obama has rightfully rejected the “deal” offered by House Tea Partiers — a six-week debt ceiling extension in exchange for presidential “negotiation” (give-ins) to get them to reopen the government — the two-ton elephant in the national living room remains their unwillingness to admit the shutdown hand they’ve played has failed, and fold.
Acting like hostage takers with a high-minded sense of entitlement, these congressional extremists are refusing to give up unless and until getting something (anything) they want out of the president, with the clock ticking down to national debt default on October 17.
This, as increasing numbers of Americans reject as ridiculous the endlessly Republican-repeated line that President Obama is “unwilling to negotiate”; and with the increasing realization that no partisan congressional contingent should ever shut down our government to force negotiations with any president.
The sliver of hope on the horizon here is that GOP elders like U.S. Sen. John McCain and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell find a way to send House Tea Party caucus members into a congressional corner for a well-deserved time-out – something Speaker John Boehner is clearly unwilling to do.
McConnell is reportedly in talks about a fallback demand for repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax (which falls predominantly on very large and profitable companies), rather than defunding the entire law.
And McCain this week referred to House Republicans behind the shutdown as:
“…people that convinced so many millions of Americans, tea partiers specifically we’re talking about, that there was some way to defund Obamacare. We can’t.”
Clearly, millions of conservative Republicans and Independents misinformed and manipulated into opposing the Affordable Care Act were also led to believe a government shutdown would somehow cut off its funding.
It hasn’t. And it won’t. Over-ambitious, limelight-loving power-and-profit-seekers like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck knew that all along.
They also knew that, deep down, most of the people they stirred into an anti-Obamacare frenzy cared less about repealing the Affordable Care Act than they did about showing up this particular president and his party, teaching them a lesson, forcing them to negotiate…with the Tea Party.
All along, the right-wing political and media instigators counted on having created enough fervor to make sudden course corrections on this shameful shutdown path acceptable to their followers — as long as the president still is shown up.
And so in the days and perhaps weeks to come we’ll get the spectacle of a national debt default countdown, as the GOP’s course correction list of demands emerges. It will likely include some combination of repealing or modifying the Affordable Care Act medical device tax, lowering taxes for rich individuals and corporations, and cutbacks to middle-class safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Millions of grassroots conservatives have been misled for too long about what this president is all about, what the Affordable Care Act is all about, and what this government shutdown is all about. If they’re willing to live with this bait and switch blackmail BS from the likes of Cruz, Bachmann, Limbaugh and Beck, then we may really be in for big trouble in the weeks and months to come.
But if even a small percentage of well-intentioned people can see they’ve been badly misplayed as just so many pawns by power-hungry fear-mongers, and if they join the growing chorus of American voices crying out that enough is enough with this scorched-earth brand of politics, then maybe, just maybe we’ll get our country back.