Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hostage Taking Cannot Fail, It Can Only Be Failed...

The Shutdown Showdown of 2013 is kicking into third gear as I type this, and it ain't pretty.

From The National Review and thence to other news sources like ThinkProgress, the GOP House leadership has crafted a list of demands for Obama and the Democratic Senate leadership to surrender to:

As the nation moves dangerously close to a government shutdown on Oct. 1, House leaders are shifting their focus to the next big fiscal fight: raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit by one year before Oct. 17. On Wednesday night, Republicans circulated an outline of demands, threatening to push the nation into default unless President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate agree to enact a wish list of Republican priorities.
Though Obama has repeatedly insisted that he would not negotiate over the must-pass legislation, leadership is hoping to satisfy conservative members by including every “major piece of the Republican agenda” save a “ban on late-term abortions — and some lawmakers who oppose abortion were arguing to add that,” the Washington Post reports...

Igor Volsky's ThinkProgress article - alongside Derek Thomspon's over at The Atlantic - proceeded to break down the demands, which I can summarize here as well:

1. Delay Obamacare by one year.  Rather than defund or eliminate outright, the Republicans would at least want Obamacare stopped from being enacted before more Americans find out the health care reforms might actually work.  At least until the 2014 midterms, during which the Tea Party candidates can indulge in more fear-mongering to scare up votes and campaign moneys.  Meanwhile, the delay will cut into elements of Obamacare that have already kicked in, causing even more confusion.
2. Weaken/defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Created as a response to the massive fraud that led to the 2007 Economic Crisis / Great Recession, the CFPB is a bogeyman agency for the Far Right who prefer to deregulate everything and let the uber-rich banks defraud everyone until there's another need for a massive bank bailout.
3. Approval to build the Keystone Pipeline.  This is a pet issue for Republicans who view this as "more oil more money" kind of thing as their energy platform (drill baby drill).  This also includes letting the Coal industry and offshore drilling companies getting everything they want.
4. Enact the budget and tax plan created by Paul Ryan.  It's basically the plan he campaigned for as Romney's Veep partner, and it basically disqualifies the fact that a majority of Americans voted against it by voting against Romney/Ryan.  Plus the simple fact the Ryan budget is evil.
5. Cut funding to health care and social safety net programs, and enact a method of "means testing" Medicare (what is "means testing"?  It's where they test a person's eligibility for Medicare, and the GOP can be mean about it.).  Means testing, my ass: Republicans want any excuse to cut people off Medicare, they just want to cover up what they're actually doing by hiding behind Orwellian wording.
6. Massive cuts to the federal employee pension fund.  Considering the massive number of people reaching retirement age, this is bound to not work out well.
7. Block recent federal regulations capping greenhouse gases.  Because we all know that greenhouse gases are vital to the functioning of our proud country.
8. Tort reform.  Like it was the lawyers' fault doctors commit malpractice or corporations commit fraud/failed safety standards.
9. Passing the Republicans' ideas of "jobs bills"... which are A) cutting safety regulations everywhere and with little to no evidence ending those regs would create more jobs, and B) massive tax cuts to corporations that won't require those tax savings go to actual job creation or wage growth.

I'm with Andrew Sullivan on this: "why not ask for Obama's resignation while they're at it?"

What the sheer gob-smacking scale of these demands means is that the GOP effectively wants to nullify the last election entirely (except of course for their gerrymandered, no-popular vote House majority). The staggering thing about this party as it now exists is that it views the governance of the other party as always effectively illegitimate. Elections do not matter. Only their agenda matters. No compromise is possible, even when this kind of catastrophic default is hanging over our heads. In fact, the danger of catastrophic default is something they relish in order to undo the basic principles of democratic government.
This is not a bargaining position; they already voted for the budget that requires us to raise the debt ceiling. It is a bald attempt to reverse elections as the mark of a democracy and replace them with endless blackmail until they get their way. This isn't conservatism. It’s pure constitutional vandalism...

Sullivan later makes a question about American history where a party in the minority made such an egregious list of demands... and he quickly got an answer from readers who pointed out that yes this has happened before.  Back in 1860, when the Republicans were poised to elect Lincoln into the White House, the slavery-owner leadership of the Southern Democrats faction threatened secession unless Lincoln caved on all demands.  And when it became clear the South had little to threaten with, they seceded and forced the civil war (anyone calling it a War of Northern Aggression is selling you snake oil.  The South wanted a fight and by God they got one).

It shouldn't be a surprise that the end result of Nixon's Southern Strategy would have the southern conservative agenda seek another go at wrecking the nation.  We shouldn't be at all surprised that the Far Right - in the House, Senate, and wingnut media - want push this issue well over the cliff (no matter how much the party's own leadership is aware of the disaster that awaits them).  Their way or the highway.

This "negotiation" over the debt ceiling and the budget by having the Republicans demand this "We Get Everything WE Want" wish list is in my mind akin to a bank robber taking hostages during a heist... and then demanding that not only the cops let him go with all the cash from that bank, but that the cops help him rob three or four more banks right down the road because dammit he's in the right.  That's not negotiating.  That's not even practical hostage-taking.  That's batshit insanity. (pardon my Swedish)

There is no reason for Obama or Reid to answer this list at all.  The Republicans can scream all they want about who to blame when the debt ceiling crisis reaches the Defcon-1 level.  Insisting the majority party enact the worst elements of the minority party's agenda isn't democracy, isn't republican, and isn't sane.

And the polls are reflecting that, yes Americans know exactly who to blame if the shit goes down.

I want every voter to remember this by November 2014: The Republicans do not care to compromise, they do not care to govern, they do not care period.  They want it all.

Please for the love of God vote them out.

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