The waning days of August are usually quiet and bring a mixed bag of emotions. There is sadness that summer is ending, and an offsetting excitement that fall is about to begin. The Washington political stage will bounce back to life. But unless matters change considerably, we may be looking at the dissolution of a political party.
Being a member of Congress is not as easy a job as it might sound. Like the Mayor of any city, there are pot holes to fill. Hmmm. For Congress, the Middle East is a mess with one week Egypt grabbing the headlines and the next week Syria is in first place. Turkey, Libya, Lebanon, and Iran have jockeyed amongst each other for share of mind. So much for Congress members to worry about.
Domestically immigration reform, voting rights, the sequester, the Federal Budget, and the necessary increase of the federal debt limit are all vying for the attention of Congress. This is quite a list and are not trivial in nature. It will take the best from each Party to find the best solution. Tough situations often bring the best from those confronted. What about this time?
Congress, however, has been spectacularly impotent with respect to governing and the current situation seems not to be different. The Republican “just say no” approach has ground the wheels of government to a halt. This Republican behavior is said to be the result of several minority constituencies (Tea Party, ultra conservatives, and evangelicals) all pushing their own agenda and not the least bit interested in compromising for the purpose of governing. In other words, these GOP members do not care to fill the pot holes.
This week, John Boehner said there would be a “whale of a battle” over any increase in the Federal Debt limit. Boehner said this was a valuable chance “to leverage” GOP positions on other issues (namely Obamacare). If this resulted in Government default, so be it.
What did he just say?
The debt is about money already authorized by Congress and spent by the Government. It is not about next year’s budget or any existing laws. And most of all, the debt is just like our personal debt. Default carries consequences much broader than not paying owed money.
The GOP seems locked into a misguided death watch over the Affordable Care Act. Clearly there is a valid concern over whether American healthcare will improve under the ACA. For every GOP proposal to hinder the ACA, there ought be a corresponding counter proposal. Hmmm. Not there.
The debt increase issue seems of much less a concern about the fiscal health of the Country than the possibility that Obamacare may begin to function. What is the GOP so concerned about?
Is their concern that the individual mandate, or the tax on Medical Equipment companies, or the requirement for businesses to provide health insurance coverage for their employees are too onerous? If so, what is the GOP’s ideas about providing the benefits of ACA but with different requirements?
Or, does the GOP simply reject the idea that health care should be available for all residents? (It would appear that some within the GOP do) Does the GOP subscribe to the notion that an American can have as good health care as they can afford? If so, why do they not say so?
It is becoming increasingly likely that the GOP brand is broken. It appears that the amalgam of Libertarians, ultra right wingers, evangelicals, along with the rump fiscally conservative Republican faction is in fact today’s GOP. This is not a party but a combination of three or four distinctly different cohorts.
Saying no to immigration reform, saying no to gun controls, saying no health care reform, saying no to sensible, and balanced budget reforms is a prescription for stagnation or retrogression. This is an unstable situation for any party that harbors so many internally inconsistent goals. Unless one likes pot holes, it is hard to see a future with his collection of desperate political views.
The big question is whether the GOP will simply, like the Soviet Union, one day just stop being, or whether under the pressure of the real world in which we live, the GOP will crack and split into so many pieces so fractured they can not be reassembled?
Stranger yet, the possibility of dissolution does not seem to be an apparent concern as judged by the GOP spokespersons who pass as the Party’s leaders. I see the GOP ultimately splitting into pieces. I also see the possibly the more moderate parts of the Democrat Party might combine with this rump Republican faction an form a new majority. Hopefully it will be a majority that knows it must fill pot holes.
Of course this might just be a last minute summer dream.