Sunday, July 21, 2013

Party of Spite

There is no word for this but sick:
"ObamaCare is bad for America," Boehner told CBS's "Face the Nation." "We're going to do everything we can to make sure it never happens." 

Republicans have already acted to deny Medicaid to millions of uninsured Americans. It's their stated goal to wreck the ACA's insurance exchanges and so prevent millions more uninsured -- a projected 15-17 million over time -- from buying affordable health insurance. They jawed for years about "repeal and replace" but have offered no replacement.  They profess to believe it "good for America" to leave tens of millions uninsured and prone, as they now are, to bankruptcy, lack of regular healthcare, and haphazard, incomplete, unsustained care if they get seriously ill.

Sugarcoat it as they will, the GOP has devolved to nothing other than the Party of Spite.  The party is unworthy of sharing the governance of a village, let alone a nation of 300 million.

Hill reporter Elise Viebeck, by the way, plainly aware she was recording a litany of distortions and lies, added some admirable context to her account:
Boehner criticized the administration for choosing to delay the law's employer mandate for one year.

The decision means that larger businesses will not be required to provide healthcare coverage until 2015.

It will affect only a handful of workers, since most companies of more than 50 employees already offer health insurance.

Republicans argue that the delay suggests the administration is struggling to implement the law.

"If ObamaCare was workable, why did the president announce that he wasn't going to enforce the employer mandate?" Boehner asked.

The White House said its choice responded to calls from business for more flexibility.
As a footnote: the words quoted above, from a story in The Hill, are not in the Face the Nation transcript, as far as I can tell, and I combed it three times. Here's the exchange about the Affordable Care Act as recorded on the transcript, full of blatant sophistry and twisting of Max Baucus' words:
So with this shaping up at the least productive legislative session in history, I began by asking Speaker Boehner, wasn't it time to get on to something else? "Absolutely not," he told me. Republicans have only begun to fight this plan and won't be satisfied until they kill it.

BOEHNER: The program isn't ready. This is not ready for prime time. This is not good for the country, and we're going to stay at it.

SCHIEFFER: So we can expect more of this.

BOEHNER: Absolutely. You're going to see a lot more of it, and you're going to see bipartisan votes coming out of the House to begin to derail this thing.

SCHIEFFER: Knowing full well that this is going nowhere.

BOEHNER: Well, Bob, I've been around this town for a little while, like you have -- not quite as long -- but around here, never, ever, ever is not usually a good prescription. The senators know, the Democrat senators know that this law's not workable. They know it's not ready. It was Max Baucus, Senate chairman, Democrat chairman of the Finance Committee, who said that this was a train wreck. They know it's a train wreck, so I wouldn't be so quick to suggest that they're never going to take this up. Matter of fact, I would urge Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, put these two bills on the floor of the Senate to delay the employer mandate and to delay the individual mandate, and let's see what happens.
UPDATE: Steve Benen has some trenchant commentary on this depraved interview. In response to Boehner's assertion that the House GOP ""should not be judged by how many new laws we create" but rather "by how many laws we repeal," Benen writes:
The House Speaker is on his way to establishing an accomplishment-free legacy, and at this point, he'd like you to think that's great.

Indeed, the closer one looks at Boehner's argument, the more bizarre it appears.

On the surface, his rhetoric is the epitome of the kind of post-policy nihilism that dominates Republican thought in 2013 -- Boehner doesn't want to build up, he'd rather tear down. Given an opportunity to look forward and make national progress, the Speaker sees value in looking backward and undoing what's already been done.

And just below the surface, the argument reinforces what has long been suspected: House Republicans not only don't have a positive policy agenda, they don't even see the point in pretending to want one.

But then there's the most problematic angle of all. Congress "ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal"? I'm afraid I have bad news for Speaker: Congress isn't repealing laws, either. Indeed, in order for lawmakers to repeal laws, Congress has to -- wait for it -- pass legislation addressing those laws.
In other words, by Boehner's own standards for evaluating Congress on the merits, he's failing.
And as Jonathan Chait warns, this policy nihilism is not just frustrating or wasteful. It's dangerous. The GOP is steering us toward catastrophe:
Rubio, who now passes for one of his party’s respected moderates, gives a sense of what a Republican negotiating strategy might look like this fall. The GOP, Rubio says, should shut down the government unless Obama agrees to defund health-care reform. (“If we have a six-month continuing resolution [postponing a shutdown], we should defund the implementation of Obama­care by those six months.”) Rubio has likewise demanded a second confrontation over the debt limit, insisting that failing to cut spending would risk a fiscal crisis: “They will say, ‘You’re going to risk default.’ The $17 trillion debt is the risk of default.”

In the actual world, the economy is recovering and the deficit, currently projected at half the level Obama inherited, is falling like a rock. Yet messianic Republican suicide threats in the face of an imagined debt crisis have not subsided at all. The swelling grievance within the party base may actually be giving the threats more fervor. The reign of the Republican House has not yet inflicted any deep or permanent disaster on the country, but it looks like it is just a matter of time.
UPDATE 2: in a must-read, Benen details seven ways the GOP is actively sabotaging the ACA:

UPDATE 3: Krugman shares the awe at the sheer cruelty and spite of it all:
But think about that for a moment: the cause for which the GOP is willing to go to the brink, breaking all political norms, threatening the US and world economies with incalculable damage, is the cause of preventing people with preexisting conditions and/or low incomes from getting health insurance. Apparently, the prospect that their fellow citizens might receive this help is so horrifying that nothing else matters.

No comments:

Post a Comment