Here is the situation in a nutshell. A few years ago the president proposed a major shift in the way health care is administered in this country. It is called the Affordable Care Act. Congress passed the legislation. The president signed the bill and later, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it was constitutional. Now, as in right at this very moment, ultra conservative elements of the republican party do not recognize, or accept the decisions made by all three branches of the federal government. In others words, fuck the constitutional process. We don't want the Affordable Care Act and we'll use any and all means at our disposal to get rid of it.
Up until now that has been nothing more than a ludicrous series of votes in the house of representatives, over 40 at this point, to repeal the ACA, also known as Obama Care. After each vote the legislation moved to the senate where it died a quick death.
Now some of the bright bulbs in the house and the senate have decided to use the annual budget vote to get their way. The Grand Plan is to simply not pass a new one--in short, shut down vast portions of the federal government, unless the president agrees to completely defund the ACA and render it useless. In most places this is known as extortion and is a felony. It is a ruse the right wing has used before. It hasn't worked out well for them in the past, but most of these statesmen can be considered clinically brain dead and therefore devoid of any sort of memory.
Pundits on the left are claiming a move like this will cost the GOP seats in congress next year, but the truth is a year in American politics is rather like a geological epoch. By November 2014 this year will have about as much relevance to the average voter as the Jurassic Age. Besides, if recent history has proven anything, these tea party jihadists don't give a rat's ass about polls and what the general public thinks. There is no such thing as the long term for them. Like most criminal minds they are completely obsessed with instant self gratification and never take into consideration the consequences for either themselves, or others. They see the watch in the window, want it, then find a brick to heave through the glass.
The chock ful o' nuts wing isn't in the majority, however their numbers are large enough they can kill any sort of plan which doesn't suit them. The guy who supposedly is their leader, John Boehner has about as much control over them as he does the Gulf Stream. They are a run amok mob and compromise does not exist in their vocabulary.
So, in 12 short days, barring some sort of unforeseen breakthrough, the feds will run out of operating cash.
When that happens several things will occur. One, if you're serving in the military in a place like Afghanistan you'll still have to dodge incoming fire, but you won't get paid for it and unless your spouse has another source of income your family will be screwed. All the national parks and monuments will shut down. Passports will cease to be issued, or renewed. The FHA will have to stop approving home loans and about 800,000 people will be furloughed and out of work. In addition, if you have a refund due from the IRS you're stuck, because it will shut down also.
The president, congress, and their staffs will continue to work, but without compensation. There is no guarantee of anyone receiving back pay unless a rider is attached to a future budget that is approved, so without one there is no recourse to recover salary lost during the shutdown.
In anticipation of a backlash GOP members have already begun laying the blame on Obama by saying he is the one holding up the budget because he won't give in on this single issue. This is a tactic usually reserved for torturers and mobsters. The old, I wouldn't have had to hurt anyone if he'd just done as he was told, excuse. Or, as Rocco might say, "Hey, if you'd signed with our garbage pick up service, your place wouldn't have burned down."
The truth is these terrible brutes know they have to stop the ACA right now, before it is fully implemented. They and their keepers can't afford to let people actually use it, grow comfortable with it, and realize everything the right wing has said about it is a collection of grotesque fabrications.
Those of us who were around in the 60's, when medicare and medicaid were introduced, know the political ancestors of the current republican party were howling the exact same things about those programs. Hand wringing was widespread and the voices shrill--the country was doomed because we were socializing medicine. The government would destroy the greatest health care system in the world--you know, the one very few people could afford.
If these clowns were to attempt to get rid of medicare and medicaid now their political careers would be over in a heartbeat. They know the same thing is coming with the Affordable Care Act.
Republican party policy is currently controlled by a hand full of media cranks who have never served in congress and whose only talent is to roil up the masses with glib one liners and outright lies. The establishment is petrified of them, the NRA, and some rube back home who will run around screaming he is the real conservative in the next primary. What is good, or bad public policy has nothing to do with how the old guard votes any more. It is all about survival in this, the age of the uber right.
The crazies and the cowards--those are the two wings of the GOP at this moment. And the crazies are winning.
Don't think so? Just ask the soldiers sailors, airmen and marines in 12 days when their families run out of grocery money.