Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Republican House Shuts Down The Federal Government

The GOP controlled House sent a bill to the Senate which required that the healthcare reform bill passed by the legislature be delayed for one year.  They knew that the bill would be rejected by the Senate and they knew that this would cause the federal government to shut down because one of the anomalies of the US system is that the House controls the purse strings of the government. It must appropriate funding for the operation of the government. 

The House bill was patched together by extremists in the Republican Party who have made opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into a crusade against the policies of the Obama Administration.  The Speaker of the House has the authority to put a funding bill proposed by the Senate up for a vote.  That bill would be passed because it would be supported by democrats and moderate republicans.  He chose not to so because it would threaten is position as Speaker.

The ACA is a complicated bill which is poorly understood by the public.  It was modeled after a plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and implemented successfully in Massachusetts by a Republican governor.  The administration has done a poor job of explaining the ACA to the public and the propaganda machine of the GOP has done a much better job of spreading misinformation about the ACA.  In particular, the king of yellow journalism in the English speaking world (Rupert Murdoch) has turned its TV news network into an arm of the Tea Party misinformation machine.  It is supported in this effort by talk radio luminaries led by Rush Limbaugh.  The misinformation produced by this propaganda network is then fed via the Internet to its target audience via a network of Tea Party oriented organizations.  Remarkably, it has turned a conservative healthcare reform plan into a "socialist" reform plan that is a threat to individual liberty.

I don't intend to go into all of the bits of misinformation about the ACA, but a very common thread  spread via Facebook is about the subsidies in ACA.  The government helps low income households to purchase insurance from private insurers by providing subsidies which are inversely proportional to income.  Facebook users are told that their taxes will rise in order to pay for the subsidies.  What they are not told is the employer based insurance, which is available to most Americans, is also subsidized.  In fact, it is one of the biggest subsidies provided by the government.  The payments made by one's employer are deductible from their taxes and it is an untaxed form of compensation that is provided to workers.  They are also not told that the ACA was designed to be income neutral.  That is, it was intentionally designed to make healthcare affordable at no cost to the federal government.  For example, there is a tax on medical instrument providers in the bill that helps to defray the cost.  The GOP intends to eliminate that tax from the bill.  The ACA also contains a variety of ways in which the cost of healthcare might be reduced.  The propaganda machine has turned some of the methods for reducing the cost of healthcare into a rationing system in which the government will deny healthcare to the elderly.

There is a lot of dissension within the GOP about the Tea Party, and about those who are using Tea Party opposition to ACA to further their political careers. Many establishment oriented republicans are worried about how Tea Party tactics will affect them in general elections.  That does not concern House republicans that reside in safe districts dominated by Tea Part supporters.  It may also provide an opportunity for leaders within the GOP, like Senator Cruz from Texas, to become the political leader of the Tea Party group within the GOP and perhaps become the leader of a Tea Party dominated GOP.  Falling short of taking over the GOP, it may also be possible to lead the Tea Party into becoming a third political party with an extreme agenda.  It is a political party in name only at

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