How Low Can the GOP Go?
Here’s one thing President Obama had to say during Wednesday’s big speech on the economy:
I care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s how to use every minute — the only thing I care about is how to use every minute of the remaining 1,276 days of my term to make this country work for working Americans again. That’s all I care about. I don’t have another election.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans and their allies have a different goal in mind. Their strategy: sabotage. They’ve done it before and now they’re trying to do it again. They’re trying to sabotage the economy and undermine Obamacare — even if millions of Americans suffer as a result.
Sabotaging the Economy
Deficits are falling at the fastest rate in decades and we’ve already achieved more deficit reduction than we set out to at height of deficit hysteria. Nevertheless, Republicans refuse to get rid of the sequester and are now demanding even more painful spending cuts. If they don’t get their way they are again threatening to shut down the government and, even worse, default on the nation’s obligations.
We watched this same movie back in 2011. It hurt the economy then and it threatens to hold it back now just as the recovery appears to be gaining steam.
We know the sequester is causing real pain to people across the country, but yesterday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office told us how many jobs it will be killed if it’s left in place next year: up to 1.6 MILLION.
Yep, you read that right. If the Republicans force us to keep the sequester cuts for another year, as many as 1.6 MILLION fewer Americans will be working. That’s 1.6 MILLION Americans who won’t be buying the goods of businesses large and small. As we discussed yesterday, middle class consumers are the real job creators and the economy simply can’t work without them.
Sabotaging the Government
House Republicans are trying to enact their long-held goal of simply “starving the beast” so much that government simply can’t function. In order to keep the government from shutting down, they are now demanding cuts even deeper and more painful than the sequester. Here’s but a few examples of the crippling cuts they are now calling for:
Education grants for the poor: cut by 16 percent.
The Department of Labor: cut by 13 percent.
Community Development Block Grants: cut by nearly 50 percent.
Amtrak: cut by nearly one-third.
EPA clean water grants: cut by 83 percent.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities: cut by 50 percent.
Just like blocking nominees to government agencies they don’t like, the GOP is trying to starve programs they don’t care about or whose mission they disagree with. This is simply nullification by another name.
Conservatives know they are at the last chance saloon when it comes to their quest to destroy Obamacare. They lost the fight in Congress, they lost at the Supreme Court, and President Obama won and Democrats added seats in the Senate last November.
They know that millions of Americans will soon get access to quality, affordable health care for the first time. Tens of millions more already have new benefits and better coverage. And come January 1, 2014, the worst abuses of the health insurance industry, including denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, will be history.
The only thing conservatives can do now is try to throw sand in the gears. They have spent or will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a misinformation campaign. They’re hurting some of the poorest Americans by refusing to expand Medicaid. They are threatening to shut down the government in order to defund the law. They’re intimidating private sector groups that might want to help inform the public of the law’s benefits. And, most cynically of all, they are trying to convince the uninsured to stay uninsured. All of this simply out of spite and the hopes it might benefit them in the 2014 election.
Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote a must-read column this week calling out Republicans for their appalling behavior:
What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing.[…]
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.
BOTTOM LINE: Republicans are trying to sabotage the economy and undermine Obamacare merely out of political spite and the hopes it might help them in 2014. Instead of sabotaging the economy and trying to deny quality, affordable health care to millions of Americans, it’s time for Republicans to focus on actually governing this country and helping grow the middle class and the economy along with it.