As Republicans Actively Sabotage the Government, America Suffers

Jonathan Chait summed it up pretty accurately:

Spectacles like this have turned into a regular feature of life in the Republican House. The party leadership draws up a bill that’s far too right-wing to ever become law, but it fails in the House because it isn’t right-wing enough. Sometimes, as with the attempts to repeal Obamacare, the failures don’t matter much, but in other instances the inability to pass legislation poses horrifying dangers. The chaos and dysfunction have set in so deeply that Washington now lurches from crisis to crisis, and once-dull, keep-the-lights-on rituals of government procedure are transformed into white-knuckle dramas that threaten national or even global catastrophe.

The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.[snip]

The rational way to view these events is that Republicans have marginalized themselves. But the hard-liners see it differently. In their minds, every bill that passes is a betrayal by their leaders. They know that letting Democrats carry bills through the House has been the leadership’s desperate recourse to avoid total chaos, and since chaos is their leverage, they are now working feverishly to seal off that escape route. This year, an increasing proportion of conservative media is given over to conservative activists’ extracting pledges from Republican leaders not to negotiate with Democrats. In the wake of the tax-cut deal, Republican leaders in both houses had to pledge that they would not engage in any—to quote the ubiquitous buzzword—“backroom deals.” Since all deals get made in back rooms (there is no such thing as a front room, and leaders in Western cultures like the United States habitually transact their business in rooms), this means no negotiation at all.

The Republicans in Congress are fully prepared to engage in any and every extreme tactic they can imagine.  Their goal is simple: sabotage government.

While Greg Sargent and I talk about “sabotage governing” quite a bit, it’s easy to lose sight sometimes of just how sweeping the GOP efforts to impair the federal health care law really are. We’ve never seen anything like this — it is literally without precedent — and for millions of Americans, very little matters more.[snip]

Again, don’t forget that this has simply never happened before. There is no precedent in American history for Congress approving a massive new public benefit, a president signing it into law, the Supreme Court endorsing the benefit’s legality, and then having an entire political party actively and shamelessly working to sabotage the law.

The Republican party has quite simply lost its collective mind.  Mike Lee’s threat to shut down the government unless the ACA is defunded is quite simply beyond the pale.

Paul Waldman offered his take:

What we have here is something truly unprecedented: an opposition party not just insisting that a significant government program was a bad idea, not even just hoping that in its implementation it doesn’t work, but committing itself to actively working to make sure the program fails and that as much human misery as possible can be created along the way, so that eventual repeal of the program will become possible.

The Obama administration is facing a huge administrative task, laid on top of which is a challenging political problem. Try to imagine a government trying to build a new bridge, while all throughout their political opponents were not only telling people they’d die if they drove across it, but going out to throw rocks at the construction workers.

The Republican anti-government gospel has evolved from a desire to limit government to a desire to destroy it.  Obamacare has become the focus of Republican and conservative ire.  For all its weaknesses, the ACA represents a very real attempt to reform our dysfunctional health care system and as we’re seeing California and New York, the various interlocking parts of the bill look like they’re going to actually work where they’re successfully implemented.  Which explains why Republicans are now threatening to defund the program in exchange for not shutting down the government; they lost the political battle to stop it in in 2009 and 2010 – although their truly shockingly dishonest tactics remain, to my mind, a low point in American political history.  Then they lost the legal battle.  Now, theyr’e using the only tool they have left to fight the Affordable Care Act.

The Republicans may be embracing these tactics out of desparation.  Their base is angry to the point of derangement:

At a time when major elements of the GOP’s conservative “base” are already convinced—because they hear it constantly from conservative media gabbers—that the only thing standing in the way of total victory for The Cause is the weakness of GOP lawmakers, the “kill Obamacare or shut down the government” war cry could quickly get way out of hand.  It doesn’t help that so many conservatives continue to believe, notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, that a government shutdown would show Americans how little they actually miss Big Government.

If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner don’t like the idea, they’d better come up with an alternative strategy for dealing with the autumn fiscal “crisis” and give it some momentum. Otherwise the thrill of imagining themselves denying government-enabled health insurance to 25 or 30 million people could so excite conservative activists that there will be no stopping them.

All of which adds up to a huge problem for America.  A government shut down would be a complete fiasco.   Politically, it could be suicidal for Republicans; suddenly, Republicans would have nothing left to lose.  It would make the last year look like child’s play.


  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on July 29, 2013 - 12:08 pm

    They SAY they want a government shutdown and are not afraid to do it, however everyone in Washington knows what happened in the 1990s when Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government, even if they weren’t there at the time.

  2. #2 by cav on July 29, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    Bluster! Kabuki! Bengazhi Lee himself admitted a shut-down is NOT going to happen.

    • #3 by Glenden Brown on July 29, 2013 - 1:07 pm

      I saw that Mike Lee has backed off his claim that he was going to shut down the government. I think that’s attributable to the way in which his plan sparked a major brouhaha among congressional republicans – it was a major blow up.

      • #4 by Richard Warnick on July 29, 2013 - 1:34 pm

        Every time the Republicans threaten a shutdown, I wish they would do it and suffer the consequences. But they are smart enough to realize it would cost them at the polls. So they keep making these empty threats.

      • #5 by cav on July 31, 2013 - 8:46 am

        …except as they pertain to framing and meme-building.

  3. #6 by Richard Warnick on July 31, 2013 - 2:58 pm

    Did you catch Chris Hayes last night? He interviewed my very own congressman, Jason Chaffetz – and thanked him for being such a friend to progressives. Because he has been, albeit unintentionally (emphasis added).

    HAYES: Congressman, here’s what I have to say about this. I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the discipline of the tea party caucus in the House, as a kind of ideologue, myself. I have to say, the way I read the situation is I am so thankful for people like yourself and other principled conservative Republicans in the House for saying no to grand bargain deal after grand bargain deal after grand bargain deal, because what it’s meant is things the President has wanted to do that would really anger folks like myself on the left like changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated or lowering the corporate tax rate, none of that gets done. In some ways you’re the best ally I have in the U.S. government to make sure these deals don’t get struck.

    CHAFFETZ: That scares the living daylights out of me.

    HAYES: That’s my point, though. My point is if you take yes for an answer, you’re going to get policy that’s closer to the things congressman Chaffetz likes than the things Chris Hayes likes, yet the Republican Party seems incapable of saying yes.

    CHAFFETZ: I disagree with that. I sponsored a bill that said people who are applying for and trying to get federal grants, if they haven’t paid their federal taxes then they shouldn’t be able to get those grants. Guess what? That was then- Senator Obama’s idea. I took that bill, I sponsored it. I passed it in the House of Representatives. It’s sitting there in the United States Senate. I can point only to the Democrats for holding this up, but there’s an idea that was originally Barack Obama’s idea. I love it. How come the White House isn’t helping me pass something that was the President’s idea? And if there’s a criticism of House Republicans for being obstructionists, what is it President Obama believes in that the Republicans have suggested? Certainly there’s got to be something.

    HAYES: Lowering the corporate tax rate! He wants it bring it down. I don’t want to lower the corporate tax rate. Lefties don’t want to lower the corporate tax rate. Republicans want to lower the corporate tax rate. That’s exactly the kind of thing there’s common ground on.

    Mere cynicism is not enough to cope with the utterly bizarre and perverse politics we have in Washington. Josh Marshall used the phrase “up is downism,” but even that doesn’t capture the level of dysfunction.

    President Obama gives speeches about how much he cares for the middle class, and behind closed doors he is pushing to make Larry Summers(!) the new Fed chair. Republicans bitterly oppose the ACA, voting to repeal it 40 times. But it was their idea in the first place! Politics is inside-out as well as upside down.

  4. #7 by cav on July 31, 2013 - 4:23 pm

    Is your NSA account in arrears?

  5. #8 by Richard Warnick on July 31, 2013 - 4:29 pm

    I can’t fix it from this computer for some unknown reason. Maybe later when I get home.

    • #9 by Richard Warnick on July 31, 2013 - 7:13 pm

      The only pending comment was from cav.

  6. #10 by brewski on August 3, 2013 - 10:05 pm

    Glenden deletes my posts so you don’t see them as pending.

    • #11 by Larry Bergan on August 3, 2013 - 10:43 pm


      Glenden has already admitted that he deletes your comments on his posts because he has determined them to be bullshit. Why do you continue to comment on Glenden’s posts?

      • #12 by brewski on August 4, 2013 - 10:09 am

        Glenden has also deleted my comments on posts which are not his.

        And what is the meaning of “because he has determined”?

        This sounds like Authoritarian Censorship and should never be tolerated by OneUtah.

        He also deletes my posts which are word for word quotes from Obama and other lefties. Is Obama bullshit?

        Glenden should be banned from OneUtah as a matter of moral principle

        • #13 by Larry Bergan on August 4, 2013 - 11:07 am

          I have no way of knowing what comments Glenden may be deleting.

          My advice to you would be to tell the truth and get a name.

          • #14 by brewski on August 4, 2013 - 4:51 pm

            Tell that to cav

            I always tell the truth. That is why liars like Glenden delete me. He hates the truth.

        • #15 by cav on August 4, 2013 - 11:59 am

          “…Obama and other lefties”.

          Ahem…Obama is no leftie, (except when held up next to the teaparty). He just occasionally plays one before the press corps and on TV. Frankly I believe he gives the left a bad name.

          Yes! And an argument could certainly be made.

          • #16 by brewski on August 4, 2013 - 4:52 pm


            You shouldn’t say thing like that about Obama. Glenden might delete you. That’s what Authoritarians do.

  7. #17 by cav on August 4, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    There’s no excuse for our anonymity.

  8. #18 by Larry Bergan on August 5, 2013 - 7:05 pm

    brewski always tells the truth. That’s why he says everything Maddow says is a lie. I’ll admit that Maddow has to follow a carefully scripted pro-corporate line, but the reason MSNBC supposedly went liberal was because it wanted to survive.

    The Washington Post just sold itself for a song.

    • #19 by brewski on August 6, 2013 - 7:10 am

      I didn’t say that everything Maddow says is a lie. I said that I have easily documented that lots of things Maddow says is a lie. So it is not really my opinion. It is proven fact.

      You make an interesting point about MSNBC and “wanting to survive”. So what you are saying is that they went liberal to get higher ratings from a group of people (like you) who want to listen to that. So in other words, they are telling you what you want to hear so they can get ratings and sell advertising to big corporations to sell you stuff. And these are the people you trust to give you the real news? Sounds identical to the Fox News model.

      • #20 by Richard Warnick on August 6, 2013 - 9:31 am

        MSNBC is certainly not telling progressives what they want to hear. Maybe partisan Dems are satisfied with the network’s steadfast refusal to criticize the Obama administration.

        Alan Grayson rips into Martin Bashir for defending NSA spying (video). And Karen Finney now has her own show on MSNBC – she’s an absolute tool.

        • #21 by brewski on August 6, 2013 - 11:17 am

          MSNBC is a wholly-owned PR firm of the White House. It is not news. It is not opinion. It is PR spin and shit.

          How could anyone like this have a TV show unless the network is a fraud:

          • #22 by cav on August 6, 2013 - 1:02 pm

            Yes! Sharpton should be white, and a transferree from Fox. Then his views would be more palatable

            Opinions are like assholes….

          • #23 by cav on August 6, 2013 - 1:20 pm

            I don’t know Obama but wouldn’t you bet that during his remarkable climb up the greasy pole, he justified to himself his enthusiastic embrace of TPTB by thinking it was a means to an end, and that end would be to fight for the outsiders?
            It goes to show you, all too often you can’t work that way.

            His supporters, even RevAl, besides being disgusted by republican antics (mild word, I admit) were hopeful, forgot that power corrupts, and were rightfully proud for having had a part in their ‘democracy’.

            Then the realities began to set in

          • #24 by brewski on August 6, 2013 - 2:25 pm

            Or, it was one big con from the beginning.

            Ever see “House of Games”?

  9. #25 by cav on August 5, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    While the Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, it most certainly would be helpful to remember the political culture in toto is owned by big money, Wall Street and others. The Democrats, no less than the Republicans, have done their best to perpetuate (or at least signed on as if there had been some terrible inevitability) inequalities, wars, lies, and so on over the past two decades.

    Shame on the bunch of em.

    • #26 by Larry Bergan on August 5, 2013 - 10:22 pm


    • #27 by brewski on August 6, 2013 - 7:11 am

      Glenden is going to delete your comments. You are not permitted to say anything bad about the Demmies.

  10. #28 by Ronald D. Hunt on August 6, 2013 - 1:29 pm

    • #29 by brewski on August 6, 2013 - 2:31 pm

      • #30 by Ronald D. Hunt on August 6, 2013 - 3:00 pm

        Racism in Michigan has been an unending festering wound, And sadly the Detroit bankruptcy will solve none of the problems that has lead to said bankruptcy.

        Mind you this is assuming that the bankruptcy is allowed to go through, it might be blocked on the grounds of the State constitution, from any number of lawsuits being filed to injunction the city EMT from being able to continue the filing.

        And I would also bet that the chapter 9 filing gets heavy scrutiny and is possibly tossed out, forcing the city into liquidation.

        The EMT is delusional if he thinks he can make the argument that a haircut for pensions and bond holders will fix the structural problems plaguing the city.

        The Metropolitan area needs to have some services combined into a single metro authority, having all of those surrounding cities populations commute into Detroit without contributing to the tax base is a big part of the problem.

        Detroit has 70,000 abandoned structures that the bankruptcy does nothing about, buildings that still need fire coverage, police coverage, basic utilities required to provide fire and police coverage.

        The chapter 9 bit is excuse to cut pensions, really the pension needs to be handed over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, not used as a backstop to protect bond holders who where fully aware of the States protection of pension benefits.

        • #31 by brewski on August 7, 2013 - 11:26 am

          Are you calling Coleman Young and Kwame Kilpatrick racists?

    • #32 by cav on August 6, 2013 - 2:41 pm

      King Tut certainly shit.

  11. #33 by cav on August 6, 2013 - 2:26 pm

    The shit is starting to hit the fan, as opposed to the slow, orderly, incessant fecal-feed made so popular during the W years.


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