It is doubtful there are many Americans with an ounce of cognition who honestly believe anything Republicans utter has any relationship with facts or reality, and it is probably safer to assume that everything they say is blatantly false. In fact, it may be that Republicans are pathologically incapable of telling the truth simply because they are so well-practiced in the art of mendacity that the concept of truth is painful. In the days leading up to the Republicans’ planned government shutdown, Speaker of the House John Boehner said he and his party opposed shutting down the government and that they were seeking any means to keep the government open. However, a fact revealed this week belies Boehner’s claim and proves Republicans intended to keep the government shuttered until they extracted ransom demands from President Obama and Senate Democrats.
There have been many theories proposed about why Republicans lusted to shut down the government and likely they are all true if one considers the destructive nature that has become the hallmark of conservatives in Congress. Teabaggers went to Congress in 2011 to shut down the government because they detest a centralized federal authority, and Republicans were certain that tying the Affordable Care Act’s demise to keeping government running was popular with the public who would blame the African American President for the shutdown if he failed to kill the health law. Whatever their motives or intent, Republicans never intended to re-open the government unless one man gave them permission after receiving the all-clear from Ted Cruz.
It was revealed recently that Republicans changed House procedural rules to guarantee that the fate of the government re-opening was the sole purview of Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The rule change was done quietly the night of Sept. 30 to guarantee Republicans could keep the government closed regardless a bipartisan majority found a way to re-open the government. According to regular House rules, if there is an impasse on a bill or resolution between the House and Senate, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged that simply means “any motion from any member should be allowed to proceed to end the gridlock.” However, Republicans changed the rule by adding that “any motion may be offered only by the Majority Leader or his designee” that guaranteed even though the Democratic Senate caved and met House Republican budget demands, only Eric Cantor had the power to stop the shutdown by allowing a vote to end the closure after it began.
According to Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, “What people don’t know is that they rigged the rules of the House to keep the government shut down. This is a blatant effort to make sure that the Senate bill did not come up for a vote” and a near certainty the government will stay shut down until Republicans deem the public has suffered enough damage. Apparently that was part of the conservative’s plan all along according to the right’s talking heads who exposed the Republican ploy to make federal employees suffer.
It is unclear exactly why federal, or state for that matter, employees are being singled out for right-wing outrage, but there is an inordinate amount of anger targeting government employees who are being blamed for everything from tax rates to regulations to the economy, and they want them to be punished for all manner of imagined slights. The right went ballistic when Congress voted to approve back pay for hundreds-of-thousands of federal employees who are working without pay during the Republican shutdown, and they are livid the workers will be given back pay for their work after the shutdown is finished.
Fox News’ Stuart Varney was beside himself at the vote to pay government workers and said, “No, I don’t think they should get their back pay, frankly, I really don’t. I’m sick and tired of them living on our backs, and taking money out of us. I want to punish these people.” Varney then went on to lay the nation’s ills at the feet of government employees and complained that, “I’ve got a slow economy and these people are regulating us, telling us what to do, taxing us, and taking our money. I’m fed up with this.” If nothing else, Varney’s vindictiveness is authentic and informs his stupidity if he thinks federal employees set tax rates, regulate Americans, and in some mysterious way are responsible for the slow economy.
Varney’s hatred for government employees is nearly identical to Laura Ingraham who asked a caller to her program, “Do you like the government shutdown? I’m beginning to enjoy it.” Ingraham enjoys the shutdown because federal employees are feeling the effects of the Republican shut down and she implied that the workers are getting their just deserts for working at a government job. “You wanted to work for the federal government, but we shouldn’t have to bail you out when the thing goes belly-up. That’s not our responsibility.” Ingraham, who is enjoying the shutdown and the economic pain 800,000 federal employees are suffering disagrees that they should receive back pay and said, “Why should taxpayers have to bail that out? It’s ridiculous.” It is likely that federal employees wonder why they were forced to work without pay when they had nothing to do with shutting down the government that appears to be a deliberate Republican plot to punish government workers.
Boehner lied that he did not want a government shutdown and continued his lies when Republicans offered to raise the debt limit for 6 weeks, but only if they can keep the government closed. Boehner, like his conservative cheerleaders, wants to punish federal workers by raiding their pensions and giving the proceeds to the rich in the form of tax reform (tax cuts for the rich). Nearly two months ago Boehner revealed his animus toward federal workers and Social Security retirees when he claimed Republicans would wage “a whale of a fight” to drastically cut Federal employees’ pensions and slash Social Security as a prelude to either abolishing pensions all together or transferring pension reserves directly to Wall Street to squander in the next market crash.
It is increasingly apparent that Republicans, as much as teabaggers, wanted to shut down the government, and they were devious enough to make sure no matter how many Republicans and Democrats supported an up or down vote on the Senate’s austerity budget to end the closure, it would never happen. It is also obvious that a large faction of the conservative movement hates federal employees nearly as much as they hate President Obama and the rest of the country not ensconced in anti-government ranks. There is no rhyme or reason as to why conservatives detest federal employees, but they do and one cannot help believe that they are keeping the government shut down in part to extract pension cuts as part of a ransom package to open the government and it is troubling, but it is likely the truth.