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The fallout of politics

Posted: October 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.

It’s been almost a week now since the government shutdown was lifted and the debt ceiling was raised, and since Republicans played political limbo with their own party’s approval ratings — how low can they go?

The answer: historically low.

Once again, Republicans proved themselves adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Democrats had already conceded to the Republicans’ sequester-level austerity government budget to get a deal done. But then the Tea Party caucus had to press their luck and push the defunding of Obamacare to boot, and craven House Speaker John Boehner let them do it.

Well, this time they got punished for it. Their contemptible hostage-taking strategy failed spectacularly, with their only gunpoint concession being a verification of income for people signing up for Obamacare, which is something Democrats wanted to do anyway.

They could’ve played it smart, got the tight-fisted budget they wanted and just waited for the Obamacare roll out, which would’ve allowed them to gloat as the myriad tech problems threatened the program’s credibility.

Instead, they shut down the government and risked America’s default, which only destroyed their own credibility.

The funny thing is the GOP insisted they were taking these bold actions because the majority of Americans didn’t like Obamacare. But this is only true if you’re deliberately misinforming people about the breakdown of opinions in the polling.

Yes, a majority of people polled weren’t crazy about Obamacare — but that was only because a big percentage didn’t think it was progressive enough.
If you isolate the conservatives who hated the program from those who liked it or wanted to see things like single payer or a public option, then only a minority wanted to “repeal or replace” the program.

You know what Americans hate a lot more than Obamacare? The congressional Republicans themselves.

According to a recent AP poll, Congress’s approval rating hit a new low of 5 percent; that’s within the margin of error, meaning it’s possible that Congress has a 0 percent approval rating.
And some would argue even that’s too high.

During this debacle, Republicans offered their diehards a few sophistic talking points to buck up their spirits. Let’s review some of them, shall we?

“This all happened because President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t negotiate.”

As noted earlier, the budget being voted on in the Continuing Resolution was the negotiation: it was the Republican budget that slashed and burned programs important to liberals, but Democrats went along in an effort to be reasonable.

Apparently, the tea party never heard the maxim “quit while you’re ahead.”

Beyond that, there was only one man responsible for the government shutdown, and that was John Boehner. As we saw last week, he always had the votes to end the shutdown and could’ve done so weeks earlier, but chose not to because of his ego.

Afraid he’d lose his position, Boehner allowed the far right fringe to steer America straight into an iceberg, only jerking away at the last minute when it was clear that President Obama meant what he said.

How about this gem: “The president will negotiate with Iran but he won’t negotiate with the Republicans.” This one is very confusing: are the Republicans comparing themselves to the Iranian government in this analogy, except the Iranians are holding the Middle East hostage with the threat of a nuke while the GOP is holding the U.S. economy hostage with the threat of an economic meltdown?

Further, haven’t the Republicans been howling for a month that Obama shouldn’t be negotiating with Iran at all since they’re not trustworthy?

So if by their logic we shouldn’t be negotiating with Iran, why should we negotiate with the tea party? At least Iran is negotiating out of concern about the damage being done to its economy by U.S. sanctions, whereas tea partiers were actually threatening to damage our own economy if they didn’t get their way.

And that’s what’s so crazy. The Republicans were so fired up about a theoretical threat to America’s economic future caused by government spending that they nearly triggered a real-time threat to America’s economy — and in fact cost taxpayers nearly $24 billion in lost GDP for their little stunt.

It’s also more than a little ironic that Republicans claim to revere the Constitution, yet their refusal to raise the debt ceiling put them in direct violation of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

I guess that one’s not as sacrosanct as the 2nd Amendment.

The truth is there was only one party that tried to use the government shutdown and America’s potential default to force through their own political wish list, and it sure wasn’t the Democrats.

Had President Obama allowed the GOP to ransom the debt ceiling yet again, it would’ve risked normalizing this strategy, turning America into a banana republic.

It’s always been American policy to draw the line at negotiating with terrorists; just because they’re wearing suits and flag pins doesn’t mean we should start now.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.



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