The issues swirling around Syria have justifiably monopolized the news spotlight this week but a very important political event also happened this week. John Boehner and Eric Cantor failed at passing a Continuing Resolution on the federal budget in The House which would keep government financed and working. There are between 30-40 Tea Party Republican types in the House and they are blocking the passage of any CR that does not defund Obamacare. If a CR is not passed in about two weeks, our federal government and all of the services and programs it provides will come to a devastating and grinding halt.
It would seem traitorous, self-destructive and just plain stupid for a political party to intentionally harm the majority of Americans and sabotage America’s economy if it’s extortion demands over a political issue are not met. And the majority of those in the GOP, including Boehner and Cantor seem to know that but they may be powerless to stop the oncoming train wreck.
The compromise Boehner and Cantor tried to make with their extremists in The House was a vote on a CR and a rider defunding Obamacare…that The Senate could detach and throw away. Boehner and Cantor know the Senate will never pass a bill defunding Obamacare but the Tea Party fanatics have the conviction of their ignorance and somehow believe that if they refuse to accept reason, reality will conform to their delusions.
Democrats and President Obama have made clear that they won’t negotiate in any way on the CR or the raising of the deficit ceiling, that Congress has a responsibility to pay its bills for what it’s already approved and that the precedent in 2011 of Republicans blackmailing the nation to get what they want must be broken and not allowed to continue as “business as usual”.
This is not a bluff and thinking Republicans know this. And thinking Republicans remember how they lost The House in the 1990s after Newt Gingrich led a government shutdown.
But thinking Republicans are under the same kind of “tyranny of the minority” as Democrats are in the Senate by Republicans. That small but big-enough contingent of Tea Partiers in The House are in a position to block any bill including the CR that will keep government working. These extremists have been pandered to by the rest of the GOP as they howled about compromise being the same as betrayal but now, when the GOP needs compromise, this is coming back to bite them. The GOP is learning just how destructive unwillingness to compromise is and unfortunately, we all may be seeing that soon.
The Tea Partiers seem to be the tail wagging the GOP dog right now, leading the discussion on what the CR should be, proposing that if they offer a few scraps of changes to the sequester to the Dems, they will be suckers for approving a “delay” of funding for Obamacare…until Repubs can take over the Senate as they hope to next year when they think they can kill it (Obama would still need to sign a bill killing Obamacare and that ain’t gonna happen).
That type of bill won’t pass in The Senate either. So then what?
As much as establishment Republicans have played down the possibility of a government shutdown all summer…it looks far more possible today. And the strategy of Boehner and Cantor to convince the Tea Partiers to go along with the CR so they can stand their ground against Obamacare funding on the deficit ceiling is just as bad. What then, when Obama and Dems in the Senate refuse to kill Obamacare at that point as well, will they go ahead with refusing to pay our government’s bills?
The blowback from a government shutdown or not raising the deficit ceiling will be disastrous for the economy as well as the GOP and could be the one thing that strips them of power and a majority in The House in 2014. Yet, with the zealots in their party feeling they are on a righteous crusade and willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want (even though this will lead to just the opposite), this may be what the nation has to go through to break free of the sociopathy of this wing of the GOP.
The twisted logic of extremists is always amazing. The Tea Party claims that they must get rid of Obamacare because it will potentially destroy the economy and in order to stop the possibility of it doing so, they are willing to destroy the economy with certainty. I suppose the destruction of the economy is only bad if the other party does it?
Time will tell if Boehner and Cantor can evade both a government shutdown and a refusal to raise the debt ceiling but the prospects are looking worse each day despite the danger of it to the nation and their own party.
We may indeed need to go through hell for a while to get out of it…at least those who aren’t Tea Partiers will get through hell but Tea Partiers may find it to be the perfect home for them and their ideology.