Monday, September 30, 2013

They have ways of shutting that whole thing down

In a couple of hours, barring the House GOP coming into unexpected good sense--I'm not holding my breath--the federal government's authorization to spend money will end, and most of the government's activities will cease.  Certain critical functions will carry on, but the people who carry them out will not be paid (for a little while, anyway).  Soldiers on duty, TSA agents, the FBI, etc.--those folks will still be working, but most government employees won't be.  I'm told the federal courts will stay open--and it's a good thing; I have a hearing on Friday in Arizona and will be mighty unhappy if my trip there is wasted--and the mail will continue to get delivered, because those functions don't rely entirely on Congressional appropriations to function.

How did we get here?

In order for the government to spend money, Congress has to pass a law appropriating the money from the Treasury to some other purpose.  No appropriations means no operations.  Ordinarily, even though they have policy disagreements that keep them at each other's throats, the Democrats and the Republicans both generally agree that the government has to continue to operate at some level. If they don't pass an appropriations bill, the government can't spend, and it must therefore shut down.

This time, as the last appropriations bill winds down--they're always time-limited--the House GOP has decided that they want to use their ability to refuse to agree to keep the government open to extract concessions from the Democrats, who control the Senate and the White House.  (All three must agree for a valid appropriations bill to become law, as a practical matter.)

This time, the hostage is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as the ACA, but popularly known as "Obamacare."  Starting tomorrow, state-run insurance exchanges can begin selling health insurance policies as part of the ramp-up to January 1, 2014, when all Americans will be required to carry health insurance or pay a penalty.  The GOP is scared to death for that to happen.  They are pretending that it's because Obamacare is a horrible, horrible program that will bankrupt us all, destroy our freedom, expose us to "death panels," and probably kill kittens and puppies.

In fact, that's pretty much the opposite of the truth, and when they claim they are protecting you, John Q. Public, from the evils of the Muslim socialist fascist communist bla---er, dictator, they are lying.

Right now, because they have been lying to you about what Obamacare actually does and what it will mean, a lot of people think they won't like it.  Of course, when people are asked about the individual features--like kids being able to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 26, or the end of pre-existing conditions as a means of excluding people from the insurance marketplace, or the end of lifetime caps, or the ability to buy health insurance in a competitive marketplace with minimum coverages, or no co-pays for birth control, and a whole bunch of other stuff--it turns out that Obamacare is pretty popular.  As long as you don't call it Obamacare.

It's not a perfect program.  In fact, it's a pretty disappointing compromise.  I would have much preferred a more aggressive reform that included, at least, a "public option," where people could buy into Medicare if they wanted.

But the GOP is scared to death that Obamacare will get implemented, and that people will like it.  Because all indications are that people are going to like the new options that the ACA opens up.

Now, let's not forget that Obamacare is the law of the land.  It was duly passed by Congress and signed by the President several years ago.  We've been waiting patiently for these reforms to take effect, and a lot of people are counting on these reforms to take place.

Rather than accept defeat, the House GOP caucus is acting like a bunch of petulant children.

Think about it:  Rather than allowing all the good things that are going to happen when Obamacare takes full effect to take place as scheduled, they want to delay, to defund, and if they can't get that, they're just going to shut down the government until they get their way.

They are harming you and me, and they're doing it because they're scared that President Obama's signature program will succeed.

Is there any part of that cynical, terrible display that isn't absolutely disgusting?

But that's today's GOP.

No comments:

Post a Comment