In other news, the US Senate failed to pass anything. This hardly seems like news given that they fail to get anything done nearly all the time. But the botched repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, is a special new level of failure.
Normal procedures are completely gone. There is no committee report and there is no estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Stuff is being whipped together in a few hours and thrown onto the floor.
The chaos is much more important than the bills themselves because it seems the Republican leadership, especially Sen McConnell (R-KY) must know better. That can only mean they aren’t even trying. So what, after all, are they doing?
The Supreme Court has released a number of opinions, and it’s been a tough week for conservatives. Most of the focus has been on the big political fights – federal subsidy for state “Obamacare” exchanges was upheld and marriage equity is the law of the land in all fifty states. It was the latter that gave us the most blistering dissent from Justice Scalia:
“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote in one of the more coherent statements in his dissent.
But another ruling, striking down part of the Federal “Three Strikes” law, illustrates judicial activism even more clearly. All of this begs the question as to where Scalia’s logic was in the “Citizens United” ruling in 2012 that declared corporations to be people, too. There is judicial activism, yes, but it’s more about filling in the gaps left by years of a completely dysfunctional Congress. Someone has to be the adults – even one branch of government has to endure Scalia’s sometimes childish ranting.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report has a simple title, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024”. If the whole thing sounds about as cut and dried as possible, you’d be completely wrong. After all, the is the US in 2014, a place where absolutely anything can become a political football. A nonpartisan report from a respected institution which is full of detail and hard to read makes a perfect game ball.
The last week has been nothing but back and forth on the topic of how many jobs are destroyed, er, left behind with glee because of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Nevermind that the bulk of the report was indeed a warning about what will happen if we don’t straighten the budget out in the next decade. That’s hard work, however, and no one will look good on teevee talking about that. So let’s get to the garbage that filled the airwaves instead.
Another year, another battle over the budget. This time the threat is a trifecta, a showdown over shutting down government, defunding Obamacare, and a default on the Federal Debt by not raising the debt ceiling. The stakes could not possibly be higher – and yet just about no one outside of Washingtoon wants to be in this game in the first place. How did it get to this?
First of all, this is about the Republican Party and absolutely nothing else. Boehner and the leadership had to prove their mettle to more vocal Tea Party members if they wanted to have a chance to keep their positions. But there is little doubt that even if they win the greater party outside stands to lose the most in this game. For the rest of us, all we can do is hope that nothing stupid winds up happening.
If you listen carefully in Washington, you can hear the tiny whooshing sound that dice make when they are up in the air. The difference is that when politicians throw them you hear a lot more bluster and babbling.
Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is up for re-election in 2014, and he knows just how the next 18 months are going to go for his re-election plans. It’s a steady diet of scandals and a call to repeal “Obamacare”. He told the Washington Post, “I was in favor of repealing Obamacare long before the IRS scandal,” he said. “It’s the single worst piece of legislation in a long time.” McConnell added that the health-care law “has an overwhelming likelihood of being the most important issue of fall of 2014 campaign.”
We’ve already discussed how ridiculous the scandal-mongering is, but what if Obamacare actually works? That’s not an idle question, either, because there is considerable evidence that it will work – for very conservative, Republican reasons. And at least one key Republican has admitted as much.