Nel's New Day

October 15, 2013

Day Fifteen of GOP Government Shutdown: Divisive, Duplicitous Tea Party

During the past several months, I have encouraged people to sign up at Cover Oregon, a model for the 24 states that provide exchanges, or “marketplaces,” that compare insurance rates and give poor people the chance for health insurance subsidies. This morning she told me that her sister told her not to sign up because of dangers in identity theft. After I got my temper under control, I asked her what her sister’s salary is. She responded, “$250,000.”

My friend is a wonderful, generous person who unfortunately tends to be gullible. She also lives with and cares for her aging mother, which gives my friend an over-exposure to the Fox network. Again, I see the influence of the people who will do anything to destroy Democrats and who have no concern for the poor, even if they are relatives.

Because of people like my friend’s sister, the Affordable Care Act will not be able to help two-thirds of  poor, insured blacks and single mothers as well as more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance. The total population of the 26 states refusing Medicaid is about half that in the U.S., but 68 percent of poor, uninsured blacks and single mothers live in those 26 states. About 60 percent of the country’s uninsured working poor also live in those 26 states.   That’s 8 million people who can’t have medical help because of the states controlled by Republicans that refuse Medicaid. Because each state can set its own income ceiling for the top income of  Medicaid eligibility, it can be as low as $11 per day, about $3,000 in Mississippi and Texas.

Originally, the health insurance exchanges were established to pick up where Medicaid left off. This level, which would have been established by the federal government because it would pay for it, was fairly high—138 percent of the poverty level. The Supreme Court removed the Medicaid mandate for all states, leaving the people below the exchanges but above the horrible Medicaid income ceiling in no 26 states with no health insurance.

Virginia is a classic example of have-nots, especially notable because its Rep. Eric Cantor is the legal gatekeeper who refuses to allow bills to enter the House to close the shutdown. Cantor has also worked tirelessly to close down Obamacare. The state has done almost nothing to help residents to sign up for the exchange, which is federally run because Virginia refused to have anything to do with the Affordable Care Act.

The federal government is paying all Medicaid charges for states that expanded the program. The health care reform law in those states requires that Medicaid is open to anyone earning up to 133 percent of poverty, about $15,300 for a single person this year. In Virginia, adults without children or who don’t have a disability cannot get Medicaid at all, no matter how poor they are. Coverage for parents cuts off at 30 percent of poverty, or about $5,900 for a family of three. Fourteen percent of people in Virginia, about 1.1 million, have no health insurance.

Making the situation is the GOP to not increase the debt limit. People who think that this cannot affect them should not have credit cards, 401(k)s, adjustable rate mortages (ARMs), or any benefits from government, including Social Security and government contractor payments. The first two will likely go up, the third will vastly shrink, and the fourth may be delayed.

Our current disastrous gridlock comes from the split in the GOP, demonstrated by the debacle at the World War II Monument last Sunday which included a Confederate flag, signs calling for the president’s impeachment, the verbal abuse of police, and the trash left behind by the crowd. Tea Party activist, Larry Klaman of Freedom Watch, said, “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out [sic].”

The small apolitical Brats for Veterans Advocacy (BVA), disappointed with veterans being used as “political pawns” in the shutdown, posted a “Million Vet March on the Memorials” on its Facebook page. Larry Ward with the grassroots veterans organization Special Operations Speaks (SOS) saw the post and offered SOS’s help in promoting the rally. BVA agreed, and Ward drafted press releases and asked Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to appear at the event.

BVA objected to publicity such as “tyranny” and “protest.” The group didn’t want politicians at the event and “divisive” language because it was “causing confusion with our cause.” Ward said that they wouldn’t mention BVA in the promotion to SOS members so that he could use “harder anti-Obama messaging.” BVA had envisioned thousands of veterans gathering on the Mall and singing the Star Spangled Banner—“no one storming a barricade.” Ward said that people don’t congregate to sing.

SOS and BVA went their separate ways, as shown by the different websites. On Monday, BVA also issued a disclaimer regarding SOS participation. SOS is part of the Tea Party mentality that will keep the government shut down and the veterans from getting their benefits.

Comedians were worried when President Obama was elected that they might run short on subject matter. No fear—the GOP are here. Andy Borowitz has a classic example with his satiric column entitled “Rand Paul Proposes Reopening Just Enough of Government to Hold New Hearings on Benghazi.” Borowitz ended with this (possibly fictional) statement from Rand: “For the two weeks of this shutdown, the American people have had no new information about Benghazi. It’s time to stop the madness.”

Humor doesn’t need to be fabricated, however. The RNC tweeted its New Jersey constituents, urging them to vote today in the election determining whether candidate Cory Booker or the Republican would go to the U.S. Senate. When Huffington Post pointed out that the election is not until tomorrow, RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski got snippy. Republicans are probably still irritated because Gov. Chris Christie’s fear moved the senatorial election away from his own for fear that he might lose.

Joking aside, another day has passed with no action about the government shutdown. Earlier today the House GOP planned to pass a CR including the delay of the 2.3 percent on medical devices for two years, stricter income verification for Obamacare applicants, and elimination of the health insurance subsidies for members of the Congress, Cabinet, and the president. By the end of the day, they had dropped the first two parts, and some GOP members were so unwilling to give up their subsidies that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) couldn’t get enough support to put the CR up for a vote. The measure would also fund the government only until Dec. 15 and raise the debt ceiling to Feb. 7. The Senate had suspended any talks to allow the House to act.

Yesterday Fitch Ratings announced that it was putting the U.S. on an increased risk of a default and the nation’s AAA rating on a negative watch. Citigroup told analysts that it was trimming its holdings in Treasury debt that were due to mature before the end of the month. The Dow Jones average dropped 133 points.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blasted the House GOP: “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle. We would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.” He added that the party’s brutal poll numbers made it clear that the GOP needs to accept a deal and end the shutdown. When asked about his opinion, McCain read from a paper in his hands that “74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Washington are handling the nation’s budget crisis. That’s why!”

Thanks to the GOP Tea Party, the United States is rapidly losing respect in the world. Yesterday, the New York Times reported:

“Chinese leaders called on a ‘befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.’ In a commentary on Sunday, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua blamed ‘cyclical stagnation in Washington’ for leaving the dollar-based assets of many nations in jeopardy.”

Tomorrow is another day. The Senate plans to return to negotiating, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has met with 15-20 highly conservative GOP representatives in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Tortilla Coast to plan amendments to the Senate plan including dismantling Obamacare.

Meanwhile members of Congress are getting paid, receiving free health insurance, and going to the taxpayer-funded gym.

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