Once upon a time – oh, two or three weeks ago – there appeared to be a real, live Republican cause, misguided, irrational and doomed to fail though it was: Dealing a death blow to Obamacare. Three weeks hence, well, the “cause” has left the building, leaving in its place beefs about the medical device tax and Congressional healthcare subsidies and birth control coverage under the ACA and entitlements and the Keystone pipeline and, you know, federal spending or something. Okay, sure, for zealots, no cause is too small to feed their huge, unwieldy, eternally hungry ideology. But even in terms of unbridled and indiscriminate zealotry, the medical device tax seems a little, well, thin.
As Republican Rep. Peter King noted in anger, “This party is going nuts . . . After shutting down the government for two and a half weeks, laying off 800,000 people, all the damage we caused, all we would end up doing was taking away health insurance from congressional employees. That’s it? That’s what you go to war for? That’s what we shut down the United States government for?”
Oh, what a glorious, righteous time for right-wingers, back a few weeks ago, when House Republicans, led by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee – the “Cruzies” – gleefully leaped on the “Obamacare bad” train and succeeded in shutting down the federal government. Back then, they had a cause, all right: To the Cruzies and the tea party, no sacrifice was too great (for us to make, that is) to accomplish their goal of disabling that nefarious law that provides healthcare to millions.
Then, suddenly, the “cause” veered wildly. It could be, of course, that the House Republicans gumming up the works got frightened at the public outcry, at the polls, and that they all looked around at each other in panic one day and said, “Hey. Dudes. This is looking like a dim bulb plan. Government’s still shut down, Obamacare’s still chugging along, we’re about to hit that infernal debt ceiling. What’s the end game here? Plan B, anybody?”
The “Plan B” part hasn’t been faring too well – even worse than Plan A. Plan B of the Republican “cause,” such that it is – ideally, a cause the public can embrace, that’s worth shutting down the government for weeks and crashing the global economy, without looking like total schmucks – has evolved into something of a mess.
The first stage was flipping the script, and, in unison, chiming that it was President Obama and Harry Reid who actually shut down the government; Republican approval in the polls continued, however, to sink, despite the newly-minted narrative. The alleged Republican brains of the operation, Paul Ryan, believes this to be an optimal time to attempt, once again, to deny birth control coverage to women under the ACA – or, you know, to just cut entitlements, or something.
Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has a Plan B – impeachment of the President. Michele Bachmann simply suggests embracing, with joy, the Obama-driven “end times.” House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are really, really liking deeper spending cuts – but Democrat Senator Harry Reid and Boehner already agreed, a month ago, to deeper spending cuts and a “clean” CR to keep the government open – before, that is, House Republicans started rapping Boehner’s knuckles with a ruler. That Plan B precluded, even, Plan A, the government shutdown over Obamacare.
Tonight, as we speak, the House is taking a little break from the exhausting business of wrecking the country and have decided instead to reconnoiter tomorrow, Wednesday, within hours of the moment the U.S. goes into default. Rumor has it that, in another run at a new and improved Plan B, House Republicans were going to throw a bill out there (one they knew would be soundly rejected), vote, and then blow town, leaving in their wake a deal they believed the Senate couldn’t refuse without risking a government default and which couldn’t be debated in both chambers. (A side note: Nobody said their collective, convoluted and confused Plan B was built on any sort of genius thinking.)
Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, clearly frustrated with House Republicans, as much as admitted defeat: “If our party can’t pass this, then there’s no doubt we’re going to end up with what the Senate sends us. Look, if my colleagues can’t muster together and sometimes accept good because they’re waiting for perfect, then that’s on them.”
Here it is, folks, Republican Plan B: Take whatever crumbs they can get from the Democrats’ table – and like it.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013