In my last column on this blog, I spent the majority of the article criticizing President Obama and the administration for the woeful mess they have made of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka "ObamaCare"). Indeed, the problems with the web-site, the misleading statements by the President, and the monumental lack of good management on the part of HHS are worthy of intense criticism. Most of the wounds with the roll-out are self-inflicted wounds by the administration. Couple that with the sweetheart gift to the Republicans that now allows them to bleat "I told you so" relative to the roll-out and the problem just gets compounded.
But, there are two sides to every story, and the one that must not go untouched is the intensive and blatant attacks by the GOP (in Washington primarily, but also with several governors) to sabotage the Obama Presidency from the outset. There has been in my life-time (54 years) no administration that has taken more focused hatred and intentional obstruction from Congress than this one.
There was a time when the Republican Party gave a damn about America. Even up through George Herbert Walker Bush's administration, the GOP in Washington would actually work with the Democrats to improve the lives of the American people at large. But now, and effectively since the 2010 elections which swept the toxic "Tea Party" caucus into the House of Representative and elected odious people like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz into the Senate, the GOP in Congress has made it their life's mission not to uphold their Constitutional oaths and not to do the People's work of enacting legislation. No, their life mission, beginning the moment that President Obama took the oath of office in January of 2009 was to sabotage him and obstruct every attempt at governing the President has done.
Whether it is the record number of filibusters in the Senate (The Senate, since 2009, has filibustered over 241 times against legislation or appointees by the President.), or the ridiculous and money wasting exercise in futility of voting to repeal the ACA over 40 times by the House of Representatives, the GOP has made it clear that they aren't interested in getting anything done. They aren't interested in the economy. They aren't interested in poverty. They aren't interested in National Security. They aren't interested in governing. What they are interested in is defeating President Obama and or making his signature legislation (the ACA) fail.
This systematic and insidious obstruction is the clearest example I have ever seen that at the national level, the GOP doesn't want government to function. The icing on the cake in this sad tragic-comedy is the government shutdown, where for over 16 days, the GOP obstinacy with regard to the ACA lead to over 800 thousand government workers being furloughed, several corporations laying off people (Lockheed Martin laid-off over 3000 people), and an estimated $24 billion dollars of the damage to the economy according to Standard and Poors. All because the GOP (the House specifically with support from Ted Cruz) refused to put a clean Continuing Resolution for funding the government on the floor for a vote. Which, had Mr. Boehner done, would have passed easily with both Democratic and Republican support.
But, Mr. Boehner is running scared. He is afraid of losing his job. So what does he do? He shuts down the government and for a while almost 1 million people lose their jobs. So frightened is Mr. Boehner of a Tea Party revolt that would remove him from his speakership that he has surrendered his power to the lunatic fringe of his party who would like nothing more than to see the federal government implode upon itself. We actually had a US Congressman (Representative Ted Yoho R-FL)say on live television, that taking the government to default by not raising the debt ceiling would be "good for the economy as it would stabilize the markets". So rather than allow the government to keep functioning, they shut it down. Then they complain about the government being shut down and attempt to run through small funding measures to open the pieces of government (like National Parks) they started getting flack about.
The President's approval ratings are sitting now at about 39% approval. That's the lowest he's had since being elected. The dip in approval is justified, given the colossal cock-up relative to the ACA and the lack of leadership he has provided in trying to make Washington work. But, if you think that is bad. The GOP members of Congress' approval rating ranges from 18 - 21% depending upon the poll you look at. That's almost a 20 point swing to the negative for the GOP. So, as bad as the President is doing right now, the GOP in congress is doing worse. It's not surprising, because they don't even try to hide their obstructionism behind arguing about policy, it is just blatantly opposing the President.
Let's not forget, the ACA is a plan based on a Republican think tank (The Heritage Foundation) who developed the framework in response to the Clinton Health Care proposals of the early 1990's. It was modeled on the plan implemented by then Governor Mitt Romney who, along with the Democrats in 2004 implemented state-wide coverage in Massachusetts. Guess what? It's working there. 98% of the folks in Massachusetts have health care and it is overall cheaper than before.
So, even with the President modeling his plan on a conservative think-tank's plan and a Republican governor's plan, these guys are dead-set against it.
The lack of positive legislation coming from this Congress (jobs bills laying dormant; immigration bills laying dormant; background checks for guns being "shot-down" in the Senate), the lack of fiscal responsibility from this Congress (40+ times voting to repeal legislation that in no way the President would sign nor would the House have the votes to override a veto if it ever got through the Senate), the shut-down of the government costing this economy over $24B in the space of a month's time should tell you that the GOP is not concerned about this country. They are concerned about "winning". Whatever the hell that is.
If anyone tells you the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility, laugh in their face and ask them what they have been smoking, because I want some.
Tell me what you think.