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Our 16-day national nightmare is over (or maybe we should call it a circus, complete with clowns). The Federal shutdown, caused totally by a few intransigent tea party Republicans, cost the nation somewhere between $24 and $40 billion dollars. And, in the end, the tea party gained nothing, as every sane person in the nation knew they would not. The president has said for years that he would not approve any legislation defunding the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, a few more rational members of the Republican Party realized that default was a fiscal calamity that had to be avoided. However, think about this — in the end, 18 right-wing Republican Senate members and 144 Republican House members still voted to push the nation, and maybe the world, over the cliff, even though their quest to kill the ACA was doomed. So much for the good of the nation that the Tea Party so stridently professes to care so deeply about.
The shutdown created moments of hypocrisy so flagrant as to be almost comical. Two involved that darling of the right, Congressman Issa. On Nov. 9, Issa held a hearing during which he denounced the Administration for computer problems with the rollout of the ADA. Huh? Isn’t this the rollout that Issa and his colleagues have strived for years to STOP? Then, Issa conducted a hearing in which he blasted the National Park Service, whose personnel are Federal employees, why the National Parks were closed. In a truly wonderful moment of poetic justice, Rep. DeFazio of Oregon said, “I’ll show you who is responsible, right here,” after whipping out a mirror and holding it up to the Republican lawmakers.
Speaking of hypocrisy, I’d like to direct a comment to seniors on Medicare who are Tea Party members. Since you are so stubbornly opposed to the ACA as a “government takeover of health care,” are you then going to relinquish your Medicare? The ACA is essentially a system of private insurers, with some oversight and regulation by the Federal government to ensure fairness to those insured. On the other hand, Medicare is a genuine single-payer Federally-run health care program. So, apparently, a federal single-payer health system is fine for seniors, but not for the rest of the nation’s citizens. Should we defund Medicare? Hypocrisy!
When Medicare passed in 1965, Republicans were opposed. Ronald Reagan said, “If you don’t stop Medicare …, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children what is was like in America when men were free.” Barry Goldwater said, “Having given our pensioners their medical care …, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and beer for those who drink.” Even moderate Bob Dole said later, “I was there fighting the fight, voting against Medicare … because we knew it wouldn’t work.”
Let’s hope that sanity reigns when the battle begins anew in a few months.