It wasn’t the House Republicans’ refusal to take up the president’s jobs plan before the last election. Or their reckless games with the debt ceiling when Paul Ryan’s budget called for trillions in fresh debt itself. Or House intransigence when it comes to the Senate’s bipartisan immigration fix. Or even its recent call to nix high, common school standards.
Not that these steps weren’t awful. But somehow they could be put down to “normal” petty politics. The “out” party never wants the jobs picture to improve before an election. The debt ceiling is one of a handful of “forcing devices” that pols of all stripes seize on in a town where nothing really has to happen. One can argue that immigration reform isn’t as urgent as, say, jobs. And stoking phony fears of a federal school takeover is the oldest slander in the book (never mind that these “common core” standards were adopted by states voluntarily, and that the world’s top-performing school systems all have something like them).
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the host of the new podcast “This...Is Interesting,” Miller writes a weekly column for The Post.
No, what finally made me lose it was House Republicans’ warped obsession with Obamacare. This fixation showcases so many noxious traits simultaneously that it reveals the ultimate character of the caucus.
At bottom, Obamacare is a moral assertion that it is wrong when a wealthy nation has 50 million people without health insurance, when medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy for families and when millions of luckless souls are unable to get coverage because they have preexisting conditions. The House GOP today says these are not real problems.
Obamacare addressed these problems with precisely the mechanism that conservative thinkers and Republican policymakers favored (subsidies to buy insurance from competing private carriers with a requirement that everyone be in the insurance pool). Yet the House GOP effectively has said: Even if you adopt the approach our party favors for a problem we used to say was real — a problem that our presidential nominee addressed successfully in his state — we still can’t be with you. We have to damn you as un-American. We have to deceive the public about your aims and methods. We have to do everything in our power to stop you from using our preferred approach to bring a measure of security to the middle class.
It’s the most perverse, irredeemable bait-and-switch since Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown. Even Lucy didn’t do it 39 times.
I’ve long been a critic of the House GOP. But something in their poisonous Obamacare stance has made me snap. It’s one thing to think you can’t do business with these people. It’s another to realize these people aren’t operating in the same moral and economic universe.
So here we are. The only question for those seeking American renewal is what will break this gridlock. The only certain answer is that the president’s speech Wednesday will not. Obama is calling for an economy built from the “middle out” (hats off to progressive activists Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, who pushed this smart messaging so relentlessly for two years that it’s become the official Democratic creed).