By now we’ve all had time to absorb the pathetic joke that is the shutdown of our federal government. We’ve had a chance to hear the pundits explain that our two-party system has failed us again. Our friends and neighbors blame both parties and vow to “throw the bums out” next election. But let me tell you something you probably won’t hear in the so-called liberal media. This mess is not the work of two political parties at an impasse. It is not the result of a lack of compromise on both sides of the aisle. This disaster is solely and entirely the work of just one political party – the Republican Party.
Let’s review. Barack Obama was elected in 2008, in large part because he promised universal health care for all Americans – similar to the systems enjoyed by citizens of every single other developed nation on Earth. Apparently Americans believed it was finally our turn to break away from the private insurers who continued to cut and deny benefits while raising premiums at rates far above that of inflation. On taking office, President Obama not only immediately took the logical, cost-effective expansion of Medicare off the bargaining table, but he also compromised away the so-called “public option” (designed for those who simply wanted to break away from the stranglehold of capitalism at its worst). Congressional Republicans’ seats were barely warm when they realized they held all the cards; this new president had compromised away what was supposed to have been his signature piece of domestic legislation. Imagine Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy caving on an idea about which he supposedly felt very strongly.
What finally passed was a watered-down giveaway to the private insurers – the exact bill Obama’s 2008 supporters did not want. And guess what happened? Not a single Republican voted for it. Obama didn’t just meet Republicans halfway; he leapfrogged over the table and presented health care to them that only a capitalist could love. The GOP left him high and dry and then they had the gall to call him a socialist. What does that make Lyndon Johnson? A communist?
Since then, the Republicans have tried everything in their power to stop Obamacare from becoming law. The House of Representatives has wasted upward of 40 sessions and votes (and God knows how many of our tax dollars) to show their displeasure. They took it to the voters; they took it to the Supreme Court. At every turn the GOP has lost. While certainly not as enthusiastic or as vocal as in 2008, Americans did return Obama to office in 2012, figuring even Obamacare was superior to absolutely nothing (which is what Mitt Romney proposed, even though as Massachusetts Governor, he designed the system which served as the basis for Obamacare). The Supreme Court ruled Obamacare was not unconstitutional and would stand as law of the land.
So now the uncompromising crybabies who call themselves the Tea Party have allowed their spineless House Speaker to close national parks, monuments, and campgrounds. Gee, I hope you haven’t had a vacation planned for months. If so, your boss probably won’t let you change your vacation days at this late date. You’ll have to use a for-profit campground, which won’t be as scenic and will cost you more money. If you had planned to visit all our national treasures in Washington DC, forget it. The GOP doesn’t want your business. Heck, I’m beginning to wonder if they even want your vote.
So let’s get this straight. The Republicans have shut down our government to prevent millions of uninsured from having access to for-profit health insurance during a period of the largest income gap in almost a century. Does that make any sense? To anyone? Would Senator Dick Lugar have voted to close down our government?
Remember what happened the last time the Republicans removed government oversight of banking and investments, thereby creating what was, at the time, the largest income gap in history? The Great Depression. This time, they created the Great Recession. The Great Depression created a 20-year reign of Democratic presidents and a 50-year reign of moderate-to-progressive congress and White House. Are they so stupid they can’t see their proverbial foot being shot again?
I am anxiously awaiting seeing former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s documentary, “Inequality For All.” I’ll have a review next week. In the meantime, go ahead and blame the Republican Party. For this crisis literally is “all their fault,” despite what my buddies, Steve and Brian, have published in the Current’s opinion page.