The Republican Party shut down government. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s really an internal fight for the control and direction of the GOP. The Tea Party is basically having a temper tantrum and the Republican leadership is indulging them because they see the Tea Party base as essential to GOP electoral success in 2014.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, the Tea Party has decided to make Obamacare its Waterloo. The movement that began in the summer of 2009 in response to the bailouts of Wall Street and the automotive industry has come down to a single issue–repeal of the President’s signature program. And, they are sure that the American people will rally around them to stop health care reform.
House Speaker John Boehner keeps claiming that Obama won’t negotiate with the GOP over delaying or repealing the Affordable Care Act, but the act is not up for negotiation. It’s the law of the land, passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States. The time for negotiating is over.
If the Tea Party folks were smart, they would get on with the implementation and hold the Democrats accountable for everything that goes wrong. There will certainly be more than a few glitches in the start up of a program this big. Instead, they may take some of the blame for early problems because of their obstructionist stance and they almost certainly will own the consequences of the shutdown.
But, for the most part, the Tea Party is not smart. As their incomes stagnate and their wealth declines, they are blaming the government for the shrinking middle class. They mistakenly believe the government has taken their money when, in fact, the last thirty years has seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest Americans. While productivity has risen consistently, incomes have not.
To the Tea Party, though, Obamacare is the symbol of all that is wrong. They believe the program will take their money and give it to the deadbeats who don’t want to work or pay for health insurance. And they are betting the farm that Americans will see the light.
They are wrong, of course, and this puts the Republican Party in a helluva bind. The leadership, who are mostly business Republicans, doesn’t want to reduce the irrational Tea Party anger at the government, but they also don’t want the blowback that may come from a shutdown. They are coming down to a decision. Lose their base or lose the rest of the country. If they want to stay a competitive party, they should cut the Tea Party loose.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >