It has gotten exceedingly ugly.
Last week congress passed a bill which ensures that members of the active military will continue to receive their pay during the government shutdown. So everything is all hunky dory. peachy keen, sunshine and lollipops right? Not quite. Tragically, at the same time, four United States soldiers and one marine were killed in Afghanistan during action against the enemy. NBC reports that under normal circumstances within 36 hours of their deaths, the immediate families of those killed would get $100,000--it is a payment known charmingly as, the death gratuity. The money is meant to cover travel and funeral expenses because the military immediately stops the pay of a service person who has been killed and it might take well over a week before regular death benefits kick in.
A Department of Defense spokesperson has stated that after studying the bill passed last week, the brass has concluded the money is not there to continue the death gratuity payments at this time. Therefore, if the families of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr. 19, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 24, Pfc Corey Patterson, 24, and Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24 want to fly to Dover AFB to meet the coffins of their loved ones, they'll have to pay for the expenses out of their own pockets. In addition, unless their funerals are delayed until the full benefits kick in, they'll have to pick up those tabs too.
According to the report, Peters' was going to leave the military after his current tour was up so he could spend more time with his wife and 20 month old child. His step grandfather is outraged, called the situation "devastating," and put the blame for this cold blooded business squarely on the shoulders of the republican party in general and the tea party in particular.
He isn't the only one.
According to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll taken during the week of Oct. 2-Oct.6, 70% of Americans agreed with him. That was the number of people who disapproved of the GOP handling of budget negotiations since the shut down. That figure is up 7 points from the previous week. Those who strongly disapprove of republican tactics and behavior went from 42% to 51% during the same time frame.
The president and democrats in general aren't coming out exactly smelling like roses either. When asked the same question, 51% disapproved of the job Barack Obama was doing negotiating some sort of settlement and 61% disapproved of the way democrats were handling the shut down talks.
To illustrate how divided the nation has become, the poll found 52% of registered republicans approved of the way their party was handling the shut down negotiations while 89% disapproved of the president's actions. Meanwhile an identical number of democrats disapproved of the republican negotiating techniques and goals.
However, there is a split in the GOP ranks. Those who described themselves as "very conservative," approved of Mr. Boehner, Cruz and the rest, 68% to 32%. That approval rating dropped dramatically among people who described themselves as "somewhat conservative." More moderate republicans gave the thumbs up to their party leaders only 51% of the time, while 45% disapproved. In short, when you throw out the drooling ultra right wing loons, nearly half of the GOP base doesn't like what the speaker and congressional republicans are doing.
Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid aren't facing such a disparity. 77% of registered democrats side solidly with the president. That number includes 84% of liberals and a full 75% of democrats who consider themselves moderate to conservative.
So how does Boehner respond to the gruesome act of cutting off funds to military families during their most tragic and trying times--not to mention public approval numbers which are in a breathtaking free fall? Well first he insists there isn't enough support in the house for a "clean" budget"--one that doesn't screw with the Affordable Care Act--to succeed. He refuses to bring such a measure to a vote. This, despite hints, not only from Obama, but NBC and other media sources who have done some congressional polling, that the votes are, in fact, there for it to pass.
Why? Well the man is a rank coward. It has become painfully obvious his only real goal in all of this is to hang onto the speaker's chair. If he pisses off the tea party hacks by allowing a vote they can't win, they're are almost certain to revolt and call for his head.
While howling about Obama and Reid not negotiating, the latest GOP leadership offer is to pass a clean budget only if the Affordable Care Act is delayed a year. Not only is this the same proposal they've had on the table for weeks now, but it is also a ruse so transparently bull shit, you'd expect it to come from someplace like North Korea, or Iran, rather than the house of representatives.
The truth is the democrats did negotiate. The total budget figure up for consideration is pure republican. Obama's left wing wanted far more money in it than is there right now.
Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul can strategize and claim, "we can win this thing" all they want, but there is strong evidence to the contrary. You don't even have to look at the polls. Just ask the family of Sgt. Joseph Peters.
If you're too ashamed to face them, check with the millions of people looking to sign up for the ACA as I type. Web sites may have crashed, but they're still there, logging in, trying to find the coverage that was previously denied to them by health care carriers because of things like, pre existing conditions.
Next stop is the debt ceiling. And if you think this is bad, watch what happens when the government can't make payments to the people it has borrowed money from.
Infinitus est numerus stultorum