Thursday, August 15, 2013

Consequences of Crazy

Yesterday, immigrants rights activists paid Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) a visit to ask him to do the right thing. Even though Rep. Heck has recently signaled openness to comprehensive immigration reform, he's yet to demand a floor vote on it. Why is that?

Simple. It comes down to the G-O-TEA base demanding complete fealty to their extreme ideology, even when it leads to disastrous consequences. So instead taking any sort of meaningful action on immigration reform, infrastructure investment, climate change, or just about anything else that can solve major problems while also creating jobs, House G-O-TEA "leaders" are now trying to placate their crazy base with even more destructive and nonsensical drama.

So now, the latest and greatest manufactured crisis (again) involves threatening debt default. Apparently since they loved the results of the last time they threatened to turn America into a "deadbeat nation", they're at it again. Why? This time, I'll let Alex Pareene explain.

As Jonathan Chait points out, replacing the shutdown threat with a default threat is actually much crazier and more potentially disastrous. But [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio] couldn’t get Republicans to agree to just give up on defunding Obamacare this year. He had to promise to exchange their one crazy plan to do so with another one that will go into effect later. And when it is time for that one to go into effect, he will need to find something else to distract them for a little while, until the next crazy plan is ready to go. As Brian Beutler says, we’ve seen this play out over and over again. Boehner has to promise to let Republicans do some apocalyptic thing later in order to get them to avoid doing some apocalyptic thing now. So far we’ve avoided an apocalypse.

But the people Boehner is trying to deal with here don’t see any of these threats as particularly apocalyptic. They don’t really see anything at all that might contradict their ideological stances. The House members Boehner’s trying to walk back from the ledge don’t read the Times or the Post. They don’t care what Brookings or the CBO or CRS say. They believe every “nonpartisan” or “objective” information source to be a part of the vast liberal conspiracy, and they rely for their facts and predictions strictly on sources explicitly aligned with the conservative movement. And those sources are just telling them crazy, untrue things, all the time.

That’s Boehner’s problem: He’s trying to ease his members into the real world, where defunding Obamacare is impossible as long as Obama is in the White House, and where attempts to do so via incredibly unconventional means could have disastrous consequences. What makes his job more difficult is that this reality isn’t acknowledged by most of the conservative organizations his members, and his party’s voters, exclusively follow.

Yes, it still comes down to that. Because of incessant G-O-TEA whining about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) actually providing more and better health care options for more Americans, House Republicans are still wasting time "strategizing" on how to take health care away from millions of Americans while also crashing the global economy. Yet again, House G-O-TEA "leaders" are going to such drastic and dangerous extremes to try to placate their extreme base.

Why? Simple. They're afraid of primary challenges. They're afraid of losing power.

What far too many Republicans in Congress fail to see is that they’ve already essentially lost power. They've already ceded so much of their policy making authority to "Tea Party, Inc." And with this latest manufactured crisis, they may very well outsource even more of their power to "Tea Party, Inc."

These are the consequences of the "leaders" of one party outsourcing so much of their governing duties to outfits that have no interest in actual governance. They only want to promote their extreme ideological agenda. And as a result, we all suffer.

This is what Rep. Heck, along with Senator Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) must think long and hard about. How much more crazy are they willing to go along with? And are they willing to force their constituents to live with the consequences?

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