An Immature Strategy
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 01:10
Everyone had "that" friend as a kid.
You know who I’m talking about. The one who demanded a re-do after tossing a football straight to the other team because "the sun was in my eyes!" The one who rewrote the rules to cops and robbers every time he got tagged. The one who ran the same play every single down in Madden, then accused you of cheating when you figured out how to stop it. Some kids just can’t accept a loss, and their behavior tends to ruin the game for everyone.
Most children grow out of this phase. But what happens when they don’t? What happens when, in some unfortunate fluke of developmental psychology, these kids are put in charge of something more important than a schoolyard football league?
Ladies and gentlemen, look no further than Capitol Hill.
The extreme right wing of the Republican Party, in its never-ending effort to strike down Obamacare, is reminiscent of a child who just can’t let a loss go. It should be laughable. Unfortunately, it’s really, really dangerous.
Before we address the far right’s shenanigans, let’s go through a brief history of Obamacare.
March 2010: The Affordable Care Act is passed in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama. This, as you may recall from fourth grade civics, is how the government is supposed to work.
June 2012: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the ACA. This is how the government is supposed to work when there is controversy over whether a law should be allowed under the Constitution.
November 2012: Obama cruises to re-election over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. This election was widely seen as a referendum on the ACA, the signature achievement of Obama’s first term.
Pretty straightforward, right? The law was passed. It was challenged, it survived and its biggest proponent won a national election.
But with all the maturity of a 10-year-old who just lost his third straight game of rock-paper-scissors ("Best four out of seven!"), a small but loud cadre of ultraconservative Republicans still seem to think the law’s implementation is up for debate. And their effort to bring it down has a good chance of crippling the country.
Over the past month, Republicans in the House (and some in the Senate) have blocked a bill that would continue funding the federal government past Sept. 30 unless said bill contained a provision to defund or delay Obamacare. They hadn’t budged on the issue as of press time, and all signs point to a federal government shutdown.
The GOP extremists may stand down and allow a clean continuing resolution to pass. But even then, we’re simply jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Congress must pass an extension of the federal debt ceiling by Oct. 17 or risk the United States government defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. As Politico’s Ben White reported last week, a default would "send interest rates sky-rocketing, crush the stock market, devastate business and consumer confidence and probably send the nation’s economy hurtling back into recession, if not depression."
To be clear, lifting the debt ceiling does not approve any new federal government spending; it simply allows the government to pay off previously accumulated debt. It’s not a vote for pork and big government, it’s a vote to make good on your promises.
Of course, none of that seems to matter to the hardline conservatives who’ve taken over the Republican Party. After suffering defeat at every turn of the healthcare debate, they’re now threatening to vote against a debt limit bill unless it includes — among other things — a provision to delay or defund Obamacare.
On the other hand, that Democrats have taken some flak for refusing to negotiate on the debt ceiling bill seems reasonable at first. That is, until you actually look at the facts.
The Democrats’ position is simple: Pass a routine bill that will allow us to pay off our debts and avert a global economic catastrophe — nothing more, nothing less. The GOP held the same position for most of the country’s history, until ultra-conservative Tea Partiers elected to use the United States’ credit as a political football. Last time they insisted on playing this game in 2011, the U.S. suffered its only credit rating downgrade in history.
This is a bill that needs to be passed; no one with any understanding of the situation contests that. The question is, can we pass it without the type of drama that nearly led to catastrophe in 2011 and a government shutdown this week?
I’d like to think so. But the Tea Party has quite a bit of growing up to do first.
Pat Curran is a senior in the College. He is a former sports editor for The Hoya.