The black­mail con­tin­ues:

House Repub­li­cans plan to attach a one-year delay of [the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act] and a repeal of its med­ical device to a stop­gap spend­ing bill on Sat­ur­day, a move that could ensure much of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shuts down on Tuesday.

Speak­er John Boehn­er (R‑Ohio) out­lined the maneu­ver to Repub­li­cans in a closed-door con­fer­ence meet­ing on Sat­ur­day; mem­bers could be heard cheer­ing out­side the room in a Capi­tol basement.

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers inside the meet­ing chant­ed, “Vote! Vote! Vote!” after hear­ing the plan, Rep. Devin Nunes (R‑Calif.) said.

In yet the lat­est sure sign that Repub­li­cans are inhab­it­ing some par­al­lel uni­verse where up is down, north is south, and east is west, The Hill quot­ed Alaba­ma Repub­li­can Mo Brooks as say­ing, “When peo­ple under­stand what the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is doing, in that we are will­ing to fund 99 per­cent of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that all par­ties agree of fund­ing, then the Amer­i­can peo­ple are going to see that we’re not the obstruc­tion­ists — the Sen­ate is.”

Nice try, Republicans.

The Sen­ate has already passed a “clean” stop­gap bud­get bill that keeps the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment run­ning for a few more weeks. There are no gim­micks or right wing good­ies in it, nor are there are Demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms or ini­tia­tives in it.

House Repub­li­cans, by refus­ing to sim­ply con­cur with the Sen­ate, are tak­ing the coun­try clos­er to the brink of a shut­down. They know it, and they don’t care. They’re deter­mined to play hard­ball. They seem­ing­ly believe that the pres­i­dent and Sen­ate Democ­rats will ulti­mate­ly capit­u­late if they wait long enough.

And they have rea­son to cling to such a belief.

After all, they’ve played hard­ball in the past (remem­ber the man­u­fac­tured debt ceil­ing cri­sis in 2011?) and wrought con­ces­sions out of the White House by refus­ing to yield. The debt ceil­ing show­down in 2011 set a very bad prece­dent that Repub­li­cans are now hop­ing to repeat. At the time that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma made that bar­gain, we called it a raw deal all around… and it was.

We can’t stop lurch­ing from one invent­ed fis­cal cri­sis to the next because Con­gress is bro­ken. The House and Sen­ate are both con­trolled by extrem­ists. In the House, the extrem­ists have a hold on the Repub­li­can “lead­er­ship”, and in the Sen­ate, the extrem­ists have the fil­i­buster at their dis­pos­al, allow­ing them to block legislation.

Con­se­quent­ly, since the Repub­li­can Par­ty is now a polit­i­cal machine run by hard­lin­ers, con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans go into hostage-tak­ing mode on a reg­u­lar sched­ule, hop­ing to force Democ­rats into unten­able cor­ners and get them to vote for “com­pro­mise” bills that sab­o­tage our com­mon wealth and pub­lic services.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and his team, how­ev­er, appear to have final­ly begun to real­ize that there is noth­ing to be gained by con­tin­u­ing to nego­ti­ate with the hostage tak­ers. The pres­i­dent is per­son­al­ly invest­ed in the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act, and dis­man­tling it is not some­thing he is will­ing to do — peri­od.  And so, rather than try­ing to ham­mer out anoth­er grand bar­gain with John Boehn­er, the pres­i­dent has gone golf­ing, while Press Sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney issued the fol­low­ing statement:

Today Repub­li­cans in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives moved to shut down the gov­ern­ment. Con­gress has two jobs to do: pass bud­gets and pay the bills it has racked up. Repub­li­cans in Con­gress had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pass a rou­tine, sim­ple con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion that keeps the gov­ern­ment run­ning for a few more weeks. But instead, Repub­li­cans decid­ed they would rather make an ide­o­log­i­cal point by demand­ing the sab­o­tage of the health care law.

Repub­li­cans have tried and failed to defund or delay the health care law more than forty times, and they know this demand is reck­less and irre­spon­si­ble. The Pres­i­dent has shown that he is will­ing to improve the health care law and meet Repub­li­cans more than halfway to deal with our fis­cal chal­lenges, but he will not do so under threats of a gov­ern­ment shut­down that will hurt our econ­o­my. Any mem­ber of the Repub­li­can Par­ty who votes for this bill is vot­ing for a shut­down. It’s time for the House to lis­ten to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and act, as the Sen­ate has, in a rea­son­able way to pass a bill that keeps the gov­ern­ment run­ning and move on.

The first part of Car­ney’s state­ment is on point and appro­pri­ate. The sec­ond part shows the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion unfor­tu­nate­ly still has a very weak pos­ture when it comes to fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty. When are they going to learn? We don’t need anoth­er grand bar­gain like the one the White House agreed to in 2011.

We need to get rid of the sequester as soon as pos­si­ble, not con­tin­ue down a path that will result in more dra­con­ian bud­get cuts.

The Pres­i­dent should not be will­ing to “meet Repub­li­cans more than halfway to deal with our fis­cal chal­lenges.” Democ­rats con­trol the pres­i­den­cy and the Unit­ed States Sen­ate. Why on earth would the White House say the pres­i­dent is will­ing to meet Repub­li­cans “more than halfway?” It defies sense. They know the Repub­li­cans are hostage tak­ers. They know the Repub­li­cans fly the ele­phant above the stars and stripes. This is not a group of peo­ple who want to nego­ti­ate in good faith.

But even if they were will­ing to nego­ti­ate in good faith, capit­u­la­tion would still be a mis­take. Barack Oba­ma, Har­ry Reid, Nan­cy Pelosi and con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats owe it to the peo­ple who elect­ed them to ral­ly behind Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues and stand fast to pro­tect our nation’s com­mon wealth and its pub­lic ser­vices. Democ­rats ought to remem­ber: they were elect­ed to lead, not to capitulate.

Com­men­ta­tors and pun­dits, mean­while, should remem­ber that the Amer­i­can peo­ple had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to elect a Repub­li­can Sen­ate and a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent last year. Instead, they elect­ed a more Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate, reelect­ed a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent, and cut the Repub­li­cans’ major­i­ty in the House down by sev­er­al seats despite ger­ry­man­der­ing. The 2012 elec­tions were a rejec­tion of the right wing agen­da that House Repub­li­cans are now attempt­ing to ram through the Capitol.

Despite what Repub­li­cans are say­ing today, the ball is still in their court. They could eas­i­ly avert a shut­down on Tues­day if they want­ed to. But they don’t.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “House Republicans bent on taking another vote to defund the Patient Protection Act”

  1. Major­i­ty Rule used to mean some­thing. The Tea Par­ty does­n’t like it…well, there is just one response to that: tough. Take it to the bal­lot and make the case. A gov­ern­ment shut-down will put hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple out of work — tem­porar­i­ly — but it will still hurt those fam­i­lies. But Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, the US Sen­ate, and Democ­rats in the US House must stand togeth­er. “Unit­ed we stand, divid­ed we fall…” It is time to go to the brink and not blink. Let the Tea Par­ty and Boehn­er walk off that cliff in broad day­light. They already failed to unelect Pres. Oba­ma and to take back the US Sen­ate. Now let’s watch them dec­i­mate the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s abil­i­ty to retain con­trol of the House in 2014 elec­tions. They are the Par­ty of Raw Deals. Health care is a right, it is the law of the land, and we’re all on the verge of a his­toric shift. Hold fast.

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