Most Americans have experienced the sensation of being excited and celebratory at achieving a long sought-after goal, but have to temper their glee with disappointment that although successful, they failed to meet all of their expectations. Republicans have had a lot to rejoice over in the past week because they finally achieved their goal of shutting down the government to inflict harm on the people and economy, and convinced Senate Democrats to pass a GOP austerity budget with sequestration cuts in place allegedly to stave off the shutdown. From a conservative terrorist’s world view, there is much to celebrate and be excited about, but as pleased Republicans are, they are disappointed and angry they failed to prevent millions of Americans who likely have never had healthcare insurance from purchasing affordable plans when the Affordable Care Act exchanges went live on Tuesday.
Ideally, Republicans had hoped to inflict more damage on the people with their shutdown, and it is really true congressional Republicans are upset they failed at the national level to prevent Americans from receiving healthcare, but their compatriots in the states are picking up the slack and having a field day in the movement’s crusade to keep Americans sick and in poverty. Despite the national effort to extend healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, two-thirds of poor African Americans and single mothers and over half the low-wage workers who do not have insurance have been left out because Republican-controlled states rejected Medicaid expansion and prevented 8 million impoverished Americans from getting healthcare. In all, the 26 states that rejected Medicaid expansion contain about half the country’s population and about 68% of poor uninsured African Americans and single mothers, and 60% of the country’s uninsured working poor.
To demonstrate the Republicans’ depth of depravity, the states that rejected Medicaid expansion, many in the southern United States, are the “places where the concentration of poverty and lack of health insurance are the most acute. It is their populations that have the highest burden of illness and costs to the entire health care system” according to Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founder of the community health center model. It is tragic, but every Deep South red state except Arkansas rejected Medicaid expansion that implies racial animus informed the decision to reject providing healthcare for the poor, particularly when the cost to states is zero for three years and no more than 10% thereafter. For state-level Republicans, rejecting Medicaid expansion is a beautiful thing because they are allowed to keep their residents sick and still benefit from the shutdown that brings its own damage to poverty level Americans. It is a feat congressional Republicans lusted after and doubtless they will “stand their ground” and keep the government closed to take advantage of the inherent damage permanently shuttering important agencies in a credit default scenario will bring the people.
Although many Republicans claim Americans will not notice the effects of the shutdown and intend keeping it in place until the 2014 midterms to prove government is unnecessary, real Americans are already feeling the shutdown’s consequences. For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) halted its flu program just as flu season gets underway, over 2 million federal employees will have paychecks delayed and 800,000 may never be repaid, and food safety operations will grind to a halt. For disabled Americans their benefits could be interrupted, the Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) program serving 9 million poor women and children is suspended, and Head Start programs start closing soon. Millions of Veterans may miss the benefits if the shutdown lasts more than two weeks because the Department of Veterans Affairs said it may not have money to pay disability claims and pension payments. The shutdown could affect 3.6 million Veterans, so they had better start making poverty plans today because Republicans plan to keep government closed at least until the deadline to raise the debt ceiling in two weeks. The shutdown may last until the 2014 midterm elections when they hope to make it permanent because they claim the people will realize they do not need, or want, a federal government; even for national security.
Republicans exposed themselves as the traitors they are because about 70% of the 86,000 civilians employed at 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have been furloughed prompting the spokesman for the director of national intelligence to warn that “the intelligence community’s ability to identify threats and provide information for a broad set of national security decisions will be diminished for the duration.” It seems reasonable that the intelligence community would identify the Republican shutdown as a threat to national security, but without 70% of its workforce, it is likely many threats, including those posed by teabaggers and Republicans, will go unidentified “for the duration.”
It cannot be stressed strongly enough that the shutdown’s duration, according to many Republicans, is going to be at least through the Republican debt ceiling crisis at which time the solvency, or lack thereof, of the government may inform that Republicans succeeded in their goal of a permanent government shutdown. Americans need to comprehend that this shutdown tactic was not just about preventing 30-million uninsured citizens gaining access to affordable healthcare insurance; it was also about Republicans gaining leverage in the impending crisis over the debt ceiling and beyond. According to the National Review, “Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office, and it became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears.” The Republican message has shifted away from defunding the Affordable Care Act to items Boehner talked about slashing last month including discretionary spending cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and concentrating on tax reform (cuts) for the rich and corporations.
If Americans cannot see what Republicans have in store for them, and this country, with their government shutdown and plans to rape the economic life out of the people in the looming debt ceiling crisis, they are blind. The simple fact that they planned months ago to shut down the government to prevent 30 million Americans from having healthcare insurance, or succeeded in keeping 8 million poor Americans sick by rejecting free Medicaid expansion, means they have no qualms deliberately crashing the economy and defaulting on the nation’s debt. The price the people will have to pay to save the nation’s economy from a catastrophic collapse is ceding their Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, and myriad domestic programs to give the rich and corporations more tax cuts, deregulation, and control of the government through privatization. It is clear that Republicans will inflict the maximum damage they can on the people either by defaulting on the nation’s debt or extorting truly draconian cuts and “limited government” from the people that means no government services or protections.
The shutdown will not end soon, and when it does the resulting America will not be pretty if Republicans have their way. Republicans have dispensed with “defunding Obamacare” talk and boast that with the shutdown they are “strengthening their hand in the debt limit talks.” With the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance, they will crash the economy if they do not get their way because their goal is eliminating the federal government and what better way than bankrupting the nation so there is no Social Security, no Medicare, no Obamacare, no domestic programs, and no chance of any American ever escaping poverty let alone have healthcare. Whether they crash the economy, or decimate government social programs for the people, Republicans intend on having the celebration they have lusted after for 80 years when killing New Deal provisions began the long journey to where America is today; being held hostage by a group of home-grown conservative terrorists.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.