REPUBLICAN SABOTAGE

ABSTRACT: Republicans are sabotaging democracy and the United States of America. Republicans in both the US House and Senate have used obstructionist tactics to block progress on a budget to keep the government operating and on an increase in the debt ceiling to avoid a financial default. In efforts to get policy changes that they don’t have the votes to pass in Congress and didn’t convince the American public to support in the last 3 elections, they have shut down the government and are on the verge of causing an unprecedented financial default.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives have blocked a vote on a simple, straight-forward bill extending the budget, which passed in the Senate, and would keep the government operating. In the Senate, a bill to increase the debt ceiling received a favorable majority vote but the Republicans filibustered, blocking progress.

An extremist minority has taken over the Republican Party because the rest of the Republicans refuse to stand up to them and say, “No.” These extremists have escalated their demands every time President Obama and the Democrats have compromised with them. For example, the extremists are demanding more budget cuts, even though the deficit has shrunk to half its size of 4 years ago.

Every compromise put forth on the budget or debt ceiling that has any chance of passage is torpedoed by the extremists, often with new demands. The track record makes it clear that these extremists won’t be satisfied with any concessions they get. In fact, anything they get will just embolden them to create another crisis so they can demand more.

It is frustrating to see a minority in Congress and in the country creating such hardship and inconvenience for so many in their pursuit of political goals that have been rejected repeatedly by the majority in Congress and multiple times by the voters. It’s past time to raise our voices and demand that our democratic principles be honored by the extremist minority and their Republican enablers in Congress. I urge you to contact your Representative and your Senators to tell them to reopen our government and raise the debt ceiling so our government can pay its bills.

FULL POST: Republicans are sabotaging democracy and the United States of America. Republicans in both the US House and Senate have used obstructionist tactics to block progress on a budget to keep the government operating and on an increase in the debt ceiling to avoid a financial default. In efforts to get policy changes that they don’t have the votes to pass in Congress and didn’t convince the American public to support in the last 3 elections, they have shut down the government and are on the verge of causing an unprecedented financial default. [1]

Republicans in the US House of Representatives have blocked a vote on a simple, straight-forward bill extending the budget, which passed in the Senate, and would keep the government operating. They used an unprecedented parliamentary procedure to block any chance that the bill would get voted on in the House. They did so by making a very specific change in the normal rules of operation of the House. Under normal procedure, any House member would have been able to request that the Senate bill be voted on. On the night of September 30, the eve of the shutdown, Republicans changed the normal rule to say that any request to vote on the Senate bill would have to be made by the Republican majority Leader or with his approval. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” said Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. As a result, efforts by Democratic House members to bring the Senate bill up for a vote and keep the government operating, were blocked. If the bill had been voted on it almost certainly would have passed because at least 28 House Republicans have publicly said they would support such a bill if it were brought to a vote, which, when combined with Democratic votes, would be a majority. [2][3]

Meanwhile in the Senate, a bill to increase the debt ceiling was brought to a vote. A majority voted in favor of it but the Republicans filibustered, making a 60 vote super-majority necessary to move forward. [4]

An extremist minority has taken over the Republican Party because the rest of the Republicans refuse to stand up to them and say, “No.” These extremists have escalated their demands every time President Obama and the Democrats have compromised with them. In 2010, they wanted the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy extended through 2012 so they could make their case for the tax cuts to voters. They made their case and lost the election. Did they then let the tax cuts expire? No. As part of the fiscal cliff negotiations they demanded they be extended permanently. The President and the Democrats compromised and extended them permanently for incomes up to $400,000. And now the Republicans are back demanding tax cuts for the wealthy.

On spending cuts, they demanded large spending cuts and held the financial credibility of the country hostage to their demand in the summer of 2011. When the President and the Democrats compromised and made significant cuts, they demanded more. So a Super Committee was created to find ways to reduce the deficit but the extremists refused any compromise. They presented their case for budget cuts to the voters in 2012 and lost. Nonetheless, the extremists refused to compromise and the automatic, across the board cuts that the Super Committee was supposed to find a way to avoid went into effect in March. But the extremists are demanding more budget cuts, even though the deficit has shrunk to half its size of 4 years ago and is continuing to shrink.

The extremists have also demanded that the Affordable Care Act, which they have dubbed Obama Care, be repealed, even though it would provide health insurance to tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it now. Having campaigned on this issue in 2012 and lost, and without the votes to repeal it in Congress, they are now holding our democracy hostage to their demand to stop it.

Every compromise put forth on the budget or debt ceiling that has any chance of passage is torpedoed by the extremists. Often, they put forward new demands such as restrictions on health insurance coverage of women’s reproductive health or shifting the sequester’s budget cuts to cut social programs rather than the military.

The track record makes it clear that these extremists won’t be satisfied with any concessions they get. In fact, anything they get will just embolden them to create another crisis so they can demand more. Hopefully, the country, President Obama, the Democrats, and perhaps even the majority of Republicans have learned that extortionists’ demands escalate if you give in to them. Furthermore, keeping the government running and paying the nation’s bills should never have been negotiable in our democracy in the first place. [5] This is sabotage of the democratic process and the democratic principle of majority rule.

It is frustrating to see a minority in Congress and in the country creating such hardship and inconvenience for so many in their pursuit of political goals that have been rejected repeatedly by the majority in Congress and multiple times by the voters. It’s particularly frustrating to see Congress people getting paid (although some have committed to donate their salaries to charity), keeping their staffs on at full pay in some cases, keeping their gym and pool open, and even keeping their special little subway running between the House and Senate office buildings, while so many others are harmed or inconvenienced. Meanwhile, among other things, toxic waste clean-ups have stopped, accepting new patients into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health has stopped, access to National Parks is blocked (except where states are paying to keep them open), contractors and programs that depend on federal government funding are shutting down, people who depend on, need, or expect government services or information are having to go without, and, of course, hundreds of thousands of government employees are not getting paid, creating real hardships for many families. [6]

It’s past time to raise our voices and demand that our democratic principles be honored by the extremist minority and their Republican enablers in Congress. I urge you to contact your Representative and your Senators to tell them to reopen our government and raise the debt ceiling so our government can pay its bills.


 

[1]       Moyers, B., 10/4/13, “On the sabotage of democracy,” http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-shutdown-showdown/

[2]       McCarter, J., 10/10/13, “How House Republicans guaranteed a shutdown: by changing the rules, “ Daily Kos

[3]       Alman, A., 10/13/13, “House Republicans changed the rules so a majority vote couldn’t stop the government shutdown,” The Huffington Post

[4]       Laing, K., 10/12/13, “White House slams Senate Republicans,” The Hill

[5]     Reich, R., 10/12/13, “Why giving Republican bullies a bloody nose isn’t enough,” The Huffington Post

[6]       Terkel, A., 10/9/13, “Congressional perks deemed essential during government shutdown while public sacrifices,” The Huffington Post

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