At this writing, hope remains alive that enough members of Congress will come to their senses and find the courage to avert a potential catastrophe this week, which is when the secretary of the Treasury says the country could default on its debt.
If the reprieve from insanity has happened, feel free to stop reading: Praise the Lord.
It’s folly to even consider shutting down the federal government. According to a global market research company, the shutdown already was costing the U.S. economy $300 million a day. Such stalwart GOP supporters as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Foundation warned Congress that it could plunge the economy into another recession – or worse.
If the potential consequences of the Republicans’ fiscal siege weren’t so frightening, the situation would be comical.
Cracks almost immediately began to appear in the “partial shutdown” last week. The Department of Defense called back 400,000 civilian employees after Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act to ensure that military and civilian support staff would be paid.
Obviously, congressmen with military installations in their districts were listening to irate constituents.
And when news broke that benefits would be delayed for families of four U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan, lawmakers fell all over themselves, rushing to carve out another exemption to the shutdown.
Ironically, Republicans were quick to fix blame elsewhere. “Frankly, I think it’s disgraceful that they’re withholding these benefits,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to the Senate floor to say, “All of us weep for those servicemen and women who have lost their lives in defense of our great nation…”
Then there was the GOP congressman from Texas who berated a U.S. Park Service ranger because the World War II Memorial was closed to a group of veterans.
Republicans bring to mind the story about the man who killed his mother and father, then begged the judge to show leniency because he was an orphan.
This piecemeal restoration of “necessary” functions – what one Democratic senator calls running government “by cause du jour” – should remind Americans that most government services are important to some people.
It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that a principal architect of the plan to bring the U.S. Government to the brink of collapse was a South Carolinian. After all, the Palmetto State kick-started the conflict that resulted in more casualties than any other war in U.S. history.
This time around the rallying cry isn’t states’ rights, which in 1861 included the right to buy and sell other human beings.
The current sacred cause is undoing the Affordable Care Act. A battery manned by Citadel cadets didn’t fire the opening round, but the culprits, a bunch of Tea Party congressmen, nevertheless has followed the lead of the Palmetto State’s former junior senator.
As a senator, Jim DeMint boldly declared that the Affordable Care Act would be Obama’s Waterloo. It may not have occurred to him that while the Battle of Waterloo was disastrous for Napoleon, it turned out rather well for the Duke of Wellington.
Unable to defeat Obamacare in the Senate, DeMint abandoned the battlefield for the private sector. Now as head of the Heritage Foundation, he has helped put the Republican Party in a political pickle.
Recent news articles explain how DeMint was at the center of plans to hold the federal government hostage. While the shutdown came as shock to many Americans, it was carefully orchestrated by conservative activists with ties to the notorious Koch brothers and Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation’s lobbying arm.
Shortly after Obama won a second term, a coalition of conservatives attended a secret meeting led by former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Mease III. Out of that meeting came a “blueprint for defunding Obamacare,” which was signed by leaders of dozens of conservative groups.
Their strategy appears to have worked – so far.
With the exception of Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina delegation is solidly behind DeMint.
Would they be so reckless as to plunge the nation into ruin?
It wouldn’t be the first time.