Ever heard the saying, “40th time’s the charm?” Me neither, but apparently the Republicans have.
Despite spending the last three years doing productive things like beating up 39 different strawmen dressed like President Obama, Republicans just can’t seem to get enough of going after their White Whale, Obamacare. Except this time, the political games have upgraded from the futile tantrums of the House to the more refined hostage-taking of the Senate.
Senate Republicans, spearheaded by Tea Party darling Mike Lee (R-Utah), are calling for a budget bill that defunds Obamacare in its entirety. If they can’t get what they want, well they’ve promised do the next most reasonable thing – shut down the entire government. Because when you can’t win with votes, why not hold a gun to the head of the American economy until you get what you want? It’s the (new) American way, after all.
What is most telling about this “fiscally conservative” proposal is that the GOP is more than willing to ignore the rest of the budget so long as they get their Obamacare cuts. This is an open admission that it has little to do with policy and everything to do with politics. They aren’t rushing to make the budget process smoother or to better target the sequester cuts, they just see another opportunity to yell Obama’s signature policy, conveniently timed with the end of the fiscal year and start of the 2014 fundraising season.
And look, I get it. The Obama administration looks weak on the issue right now. Implementation delays and reports of employers cutting jobs and hours to avoid new regulations don’t exactly put a shiny gold star on Obamacare’s report card – but threatening government shutdown unless the Democrats agree to completely defund the implementation of a legitimately passed law isn’t the way to address it.
The sad thing is that at the end of the day, no Republican actually wants an up-down vote on this issue if it has any chance of passing, because then they risk taking it off the table. They might be crazy, but they aren’t stupid. Obamacare is a club they plan to beat the president over the head with as much as possible heading into the 2014 midterms, because Lord knows the rest of their outreach efforts aren’t going so well.
With real issues facing the nation, wasting time on political ploys like this does little to move the ball forward. Legitimately risking another government shutdown and the billions in economic losses that can incur is simply irresponsible, reckless, and pointless. Most importantly, it’s divisive partisan politics that gets nothing done. It’s time to grow up, get over it, and get back to governing.