Friday, October 4, 2013

Congress Reaps the Reward of their Blackmail as the Debt Ceiling Crisis Looms

Republicans in Congress are reaping the rewards of their blackmail tactics as public disgust and scorn grow daily; as Obamacare /Affordable Care Act rolls out and more people actually understand what it’s about and that it benefits them; and as the next crisis aka the debt ceiling deadline looms. 

This isn’t the first time this Congress has tried governing by blackmail. The last time they caved; this time they didn’t, but they haven’t got many kudos for it, from Democrat or Republican voters. Everybody, except for the hell-raisers in Congress, is worn out and out of patience with the stupidity that has governed Congress lately and resulted in disaster for so many. The hell-raisers have celebrated, with Michelle Bachman quoted by the Washington Post as saying “We’re very excited. It’s exactly what we wanted and we got it.” but clearly she and her ilk didn’t think about the consequences of their desires.  

Now that more than a million are having to work without pay, and 800,000 others are on forced leave, Congress is scrabbling to save face, backing down, trying to pass piecemeal bills to protect those who have been disastrously affected by their actions.

Too little too late. President Obama and Democrats are standing firm. No compromise on this because the stakes are too high. If they allow government by blackmail they set a dangerous precedent. Members of Congress and especially Speaker Boehner are still doing all they can to point the blame at the Senate for refusing to compromise but few are buying it.

And now the debt ceiling crisis looms. Boehner has been making a point of talking privately and publicly about his determination to raise the debt ceiling, but what he says now and what he actually does could possibly be worlds apart.

He has said that if necessary he’ll work with Democrats in Congress and even break the informal Hastert Rule – which requires a bill to have a Republican majority support. What stopped him doing that up until now? He had only to present a bill to keep government open, without any blackmail conditions attached, and it would have been passed by Democrats and moderate Republicans in the House. No showdown. No shutdown. No consequences to millions. No scrabbling about now trying to fix things that broke real fast.

It was all up to Boehner, but he allowed himself to be caught between rationality and what the voting public wants, and conservatives pushing an agenda that hurt the majority and who have only a small voting public support base but who have the power to have him fired. Boehner chose to keep his job.

Now he’s going to be up against the same fight, and that’s what happens when you align yourself with thugs. With the debt ceiling, the only new factor is his powerful business connections. Are they powerful and influential enough to ensure that he doesn't lose his job if does what they want in the face of resistance from hardliners? Because it’s hard to imagine that the Tea Party members of Congress won’t try the same blackmail tactics.  

Boehner has gotten praise for his comments but it looks as if he's trying to placate his powerful connections and a public that is openly fed up with Congress. Either that or he's trying to raise people's hopes so high that the Tea Party members and their support won't dare to try and hold the country hostage again. The problem is that they've already shown they aren't that smart; they don't read the polls or notice anything outside the bubble of their own self-delusions. Again, to quote Michele Bachmann, this time speaking on the Hannity Show two days ago (as reported on MEDIAite), “This is about the happiest I’ve seen members in a long time because we’ve seen we’re starting to win this dialogue on a national level.” 

So chances are they'll do it again. And again. As Senator Harry Reid said, “You know with a bully you cannot let them slap you around, because they slap you around today, they slap you five or six times tomorrow.” 

President Obama, speaking recently on CNBC, said “It is not unusual for Democrats and Republicans to disagree. That’s the way our founders designed our government; democracy is messy. “But when you have a situation in which a faction is willing potentially to default on US Government obligations then we are in trouble. And if they’re willing to do it now they’ll be willing to do it later.

“One thing that I often hear is ‘well Mr. President, even if they’re being unreasonable, why can’t you just go ahead and do something that makes them happy now?’

“What I have to remind people is that what we’re debating right now is keeping the government open for two months! We would then be going through this exact same thing in the middle of Christmas shopping season…and then we’d have to go through it again six months from now and six months after that. And one thing that I know the American people are tired of - and I have to assume the vast majority of businesses are tired of – is this constant governing from crisis to crisis. So in that sense, do we need to break that fever? Absolutely.”

Speaking about a week ago, he said this: “If Republicans do not like the law, they can go through the regular channels and processes to try to change it. That's why we have elections.”