Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Republicans Still Not Ready To Take Back The Keys To The National Car

The Republicans' own big takeaway from their 2014 election victories was that they would now show Americans what governing was all about.  Ta da!  This boast was rather strange since the party has performed a sort of demented Kabuki theater in lieu of governing -- whether jointly with President Obama, Democrats or by their lonesome -- over the last six-plus years in making the case that it still was not capable of taking back the keys to the national car.  So it comes as no surprise that despite now controlling both House and Senate, it has been more of the non-governing same -- and perhaps even worse.
In the few short weeks since the 114th Congress convened, the Republican congressional leadership has thumbed its collective nose at governing -- which is to say making and administering public policy for the common good -- in sweeping aside bread-and-butter issues of concern to many millions of struggling Americans. 
It's version of "governing" has included:
* In its first act, stoking the Culture War fires by a proposing a draconian law outlawing abortions after 20 weeks despite the fact that 99 percent of abortions occur before then, and polls show a healthy majority of Democratic, Independent and Republican voters, including a growing number of woman GOP lawmakers, believe reproductive decisions should be left to the individual.

* Tying itself in knots by holding Department of Homeland Security funding hostage -- and risking yet another government shutdown -- by linking funding to rolling back Obama's executive actions shielding millions of wannabe Americans from deportation.
* Continuing to take endlessly meaningless votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which like the first 60 or so repeal votes have no chance of being enacted into law, while refusing (actually, being unable) to bring an alternative health-care plan to the table.

* Urging the Supreme Court to strike down subsidies for health insurance provided to millions of people in more than 30 states through the ACA while hypocritically criticizing the Obama administration because it has no plan to avert the hardships that would occur if they win in court.
* Embarrassing themselves by engaging in diplomatic thuggery by extending a unilateral invitation to Israeli Prime Minister and Obama foe Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, then lying through their teeth when the attempt to back stab the president blew up in their smug faces.

* Further embarrassing themselves by feeble criticism of the rebounding economy, including robust job growth, a signal accomplishment of Obama's presidency, by offering their own feel-good prescription: Restoring the 40-hour work week, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and rolling back regulation of businesses.

* In a welcome break with conservative orthodoxy, some Republicans have belatedly discovered the issue of income inequality.  But these Republicans have no idea about how to confront the issue; it's merely viewed as a wedge to drive between Democratic liberal elites and poor working stiffs, as well as float the usual tax-reform flapdoodle.

Reaching across the aisle in search of compromise and consensus was long the professed goal of lawmakers, but that continues to be antithetical to Republicans.  Take the Homeland Security funding bill.  If the parties cannot work together, they are supposed to work separately, yet it has become even more obvious since last November that Republicans can't even work with each other -- witness the abortion bill and Netanyahu imbroglio -- and are imploding under their own obdurance. 

And with more power comes more responsibility.

"The Republicans are like Fido when he finally catches the car," Democratic Senator Charles Schumer remarked recently. "Now they don't have any clue about what to do."

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