Sunday, September 22, 2013

The GOP: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

It was only three weeks ago that President Obama was in a pickle. The Syrian situation was getting away from him. His decision to bomb Assad wasn't going over well with his base, not to mention 90 percent of the Republican Party. Polls showed the public did not approve of the way he was handling the situation. Only an apparent gaffe by his Secretary of State, which has permitted the framework of a diplomatic solution to take hold, has spared Obama further political damage. Time will tell if that framework holds up.

To most pundits, it was not Obama's finest hour. It's fair to say he took a hit and deservedly so. How would he be able to rebound? Fortunately for him he didn't have to wait long.

Enter, stage right, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and the House Republicans.  Like a B12 shot, the GOP has given Obama the energy boost he so desperately needed. Their obsession with defunding Obamacare has, once more, painted them as the extremists they are and allowed the President and Democrats to regain some badly needed leverage; leverage they will sorely need over the next few weeks.

It's amazing to have to keep saying this, but the GOP is the gift that keeps on giving. Imagine a Party actually voting 41 times to repeal a healthcare law that was passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court and then holding the country hostage until that very same President agreed to defund it. If you had a kid this demented and delusional, you'd have him committed.

And now this same demented and delusional bunch has gone so far out on a ledge that even conservatives who were actually critics of the Affordable Care Act are ripping them a new one over their antics and begging them to stop it.

I could give you the list of names, but I'm trying to keep this piece down to a couple of pages. Suffice to say they are pissing off an awful lot of people, who would otherwise be sympathetic supporters, and destroying whatever chance their Party has of achieving something meaningful in the budget negotiations.

Think about it. Two years ago, Republicans were able to extract from the President a trillion dollars of debt reduction in exchange for raising the debt limit. Now they are demanding he walk away from Obamacare for what amounts to a two and a half month continuing resolution.  You heard right, 75 days in exchange for his signature legislative accomplishment.

If you really believe Obama would agree to those terms, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. This has now gone beyond the point of sad. It has now become a late-night comic's wet dream. I've run out of adjectives to describe this movement: self-defeating, intransigent, obstructionist, suicidal, stubborn, childish, obsessive, extremist, insular, myopic, racist, stupid, ridiculous, delusional, demented, irresponsible, irrational, crazy, insane, I give up.  Sometimes I think I'm caught in the middle of a nightmare I can't wake up from.

With issues like job creation, tax reform, immigration reform, entitlement reform, gun control all on the table, these juvenile delinquents are setting their sights on a problem that doesn't exist just to pacify the most rabid of their flock. While Obamacare does have some issues, most can be solved legislatively.  But that's not what this mob is after. They don't want to make the law work; they want to drown it in a bathtub, even if it means drowning the whole economy along with it.

But, this time, their tactics appear to have backfired on them. Most of the public and even a few of their fellow colleagues have turned on them. Yes, Obamacare is unpopular, but only the individual mandate part. Most of the rest of the law remains extremely popular. And it should be pointed out that among those who don't like the mandate, almost a third are progressives who wanted a single-payer system and are still pissed at being "betrayed."

But regardless of how people may feel about the law as a whole, most do NOT favor shutting down the government or defaulting on the debt in order to repeal it. If anything they want it fixed and they want Congress to do it. Quite frankly, they're sick and tired of this dog and pony show.

If Obama and Congressional Democrats play their cards right, not only will they prevail in this food fight, they might even be able to pick up a bonus and get rid of the Sequester, the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle's love child that supposedly nobody wanted. Just getting rid of that alone will add a full percentage point to GDP growth.

That's what happens when you overplay your hand. Not only do you cede any moral high ground you thought you had; you end up losing ground. Right now some senior RNC officials are holding their collective breath and praying this stunt doesn't blow up in their faces.  Over at the White House, they are taking it all in and enjoying the GOP infighting.

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