Lemming by Leo-setÃ¤
I'm writing this Wednesday evening and while the real news channels are focused on Congress voting to end the senseless federal government shutdown, Fox News has moved its sights its next big scandal: Apparently, somebody closed our national parks and ace detective, House Oversight Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa, is hot on the trail of the perpetrator. But wait, fellow Representative, Peter DeFazio of Oregon has a clue: "I'll show you who's responsible, right here," he said, holding up a mirror to the Republicans on the committee, "The national park system is surprisingly part of our national government, which YOU shut down!"
Now that Ted Cruz's tea party shutdown and debt ceiling fiasco is temporarily over, we can calmly look back and examine our nation's losses. What was the price of this latest Republican-manufactured crisis? Standard and Poor's economists say it cost our nation $24 billion in lost economic activity. Bank of America economists now estimates the U.S. 4th quarter economic growth rate will drop below 2%. And U.S. consumers and businesses have yet another reason to be afraid to spend, hire, or expand. U.S. Treasury Bonds have again been brought into question by rating agencies, not by America's ability to pay interest on its debt, but simply by this inane game of political brinksmanship played by Congressional Republicans. As a result, we taxpayers will pay a higher rate of interest on all of our debt. Also, China, currently holding $1.3 trillion of U.S. Treasury Bonds, has called for an end to using the U.S. dollar as the world currency. If this happens, trillions of U.S. dollars, now held by foreign governments and overseas corporations could be returned to our shores, causing a rapid and significant drop in their value, throwing our already-fragile economy into chaos.
What did the Republicans get in return for all that economic misery? Well, according to recent polls, their approval rating sank to around 25%, an all-time low. Obamacare was not defunded, which was the Republicans' stated goal, but with the Congressional deal, income verification for people receiving subsidies is supposed to be "tightened." However, Obamacare already calls for income checks by the I.R.S., employer records, and/or Social Security to confirm if the purchaser qualifies for a subsidy and if there's a discrepancy, the applicant must furnish further documentation. As usual, the Republicans' fears are a Fox-fueled fantasy. In fact, the Congressional deal requires only that Health and Human Services report to Congress by next January on the "procedures" in place to verify participant eligibility for subsidies - which I've just told you. A glorious victory, well worth the price.
So, what's ahead for the Republicans in Congress? Will they now work to help our struggling national economy? Will they do anything productive that will actually help us regular Americans living and working all across this nation?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, "no." I think they will continue to do what they've done for the past 5 years, which is absolutely nothing. They will continue to mount meaningless attacks on Obamacare; try again to cut Medicare, Social Security, veteran's benefits, and food stamps; and talk endlessly about lady parts and abortions. I can't wait.
On Wednesday, long-time CBS Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer said, "more and more, Congress' main business has become fixing problems it created, while the problems of the country go untended." And, of the shutdown, "We should all feel relieved, like you would feel if you've been shot at and missed." I must disagree with the venerated Mr. Schieffer; the Republicans didn't miss. Our nation bleeds.