Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Bob Stannard, a former lobbyist, who is still an author and musician. This piece first appeared in the Bennington Banner.
As my 3-year-old granddaughter says when some crazy, 3-year-old idea pops into her head, “Hey, I have an idea …”
How about we devise a plan that would force our president to cave in on the Affordable Care Act, his signature piece of legislation. Yes, we understand that the ACA has passed the Legislature, has been signed into law and adjudicated at the Supreme Court level, but never mind that. This plan will really work.
We’ll convince a freshman senator from Texas who has zero experience in Washington (and apparently in anything else) to rally the troops and lead the charge. The mission will be to defund the ACA and if these entrenched people in Washington won’t see it our way, then we’ll shut down the government. We’ll time it so that that we’ll have a backup tool; we’ll force the country into defaulting on our loans to pay for bills that we’ve already passed if we don’t get our way.
Yessir, there is no way that the administration will be able to withstand that kind of pressure. We’ll bring President Obama to his knees, just like we did his ancestors. We’ll show him who the boss around here is. This is really a great plan, or as we like to say here in Vermont, “What could possibly go wrong?”
The best laid plans …
What happened in Washington last week is the result of allowing the monkeys to run the zoo. It’s the results of a concentrated effort to gerrymander the nation so that a small group of, for lack of a better term we’ll call the Tea Party Republicans, will be secure enough in their seats that they can be as reckless as they want to be.
Kentucky was supposed to get $775 million for the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority project. For his support for the debt ceiling compromise McConnell insisted on increasing funding to $3 billion.
Oh and reckless they were. They marched straight ahead on their fool’s errand, in spite of the fact that even some of their fellow Republicans suggested that they not. You know things in Washington are strange when folks like Rep. Peter King and Sen. John McCain appear rational.
To add a little insult to injury the majority party that controls Congress is constantly harping on our need to reduce spending, yet their antics of last week cost this nation $24 billion, lost opportunities and worked to stifle the growth of our economy. This is insane, right? It’s almost enough to make you wonder whether or not all of this was intentional, and if so, why?
What was the upside for the Republicans in all of this? In the end they didn’t get one single thing and gave the Senate Democrats the one thing it wanted: to negotiate a budget. Of course, not all Republicans were losers in this deal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made out pretty well. Kentucky was supposed to get $775 million for the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority project. For his support for the debt ceiling compromise McConnell insisted on increasing funding to $3 billion. This comes from a senator who blathers on about government spending and debt being the nation’s most serious problem.
The irony should not be lost on anyone that the only way a deal could get done was to roll the crazies in the House in exchange for some pork for the Senate minority leader. Why would Sen. McConnell do this when he’s facing a challenge from a Tea Party candidate?
Perhaps it’s because McConnell is gambling on the fact that even people in his state will think that the Tea Party is crazier than he is hypocritical. He might be right. Below are comments from a recent Tea Party rally in Washington:
“Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group, said the country is ‘ruled by a president who bows down to Allah,’ and ‘is not a president of ‘we the people.”’
‘I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out,’ he said.”
Klayman was joined by a group of veterans protesting the memorial closures that followed the government shutdown earlier this month. The demonstrators, who were met by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, pushed through the barriers at war memorials and carried the barricades back to the White House, Confederate flags in tow.
‘Our vets have proven that they have not been timid,” Palin said at the rally, “so we will not be timid in calling out any who would use our military, our vets, as pawns in a political game.’”
In this Alice-in-Wonderland moment nobody seemed aware that the reason the Veterans Memorial was shut down was because of the Tea Party members in Congress.
Herein lies the problem. We now have a group of radicals, who were initially empowered by George Bush and Karl Rove, grabbing the reins and they are more than willing to drive the cart over the cliff.
As my granddaughter might say, “I have an idea.” Let’s take away the reins. That’s not so crazy an idea.