To Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and all the Republican hostage-takers who brought us the government shutdown, I offer a salutation: Happy Obamacare Day!
Smithsonian museums, national parks and the IRS may be closed, but the Obamacare health care exchanges are open for business starting today. The Affordable Care Act now begins to be implemented in earnest, mostly with funding in the “mandatory” category that last night’s insanity leaves untouched. Yes, the genius tacticians of the Tea Party, I mean the GOP, have managed to shut down everything except the program they were targeting.
To reach this point, the House majority made a travesty of the legislative process, throwing non-starter after non-starter against the wall in an absurd and vain attempt to get Obamacare defunded, delayed or defenestrated. Boehner looked miserable as he tried to lead his caucus of loose cannons.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) summed it up with twisted grammar: “The situation has been somewhat lost control of.”
The “situation” — a fight, mind you, over a bill that would fund the government for just six measly weeks — didn’t lay a glove on Obamacare but did close the Statue of Liberty. Now Boehner wants a conference with the Senate to work out a compromise. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should say, “Fine — as long as you understand that we’re starting fresh and all bets are off.”
Reid should demand funding for the government at least through the end of the year — and agreement from Cruz to allow a conference on a proper budget, which GOP obstruction has made impossible. He should demand an increase in the debt ceiling that takes us past next year’s election — thus avoiding another hostage-taking showdown later this month when federal borrowing authority runs out. And, while he’s at it, he should demand pre-sequester funding levels for needed programs such as Head Start.
Republicans would scream bloody murder. But there would have to be actual negotiations, actual give and take. And ultimately, the GOP would have to decide how badly it wants to get out of the mess it created.
Such a move by Reid wouldn’t be a power play, it would be an intervention. Republicans need to be forced to realize that not everyone agrees with them and that they can’t always get their way. As things stand now, with their delusions of omnipotence, they can only be considered a danger to themselves and others.