John Cowie: Scapegoating the Tea Party
In a recent letter to the editor, the writer excoriated the Republican congressional leadership and named the Tea Party responsible for the mess in Washington. The author welcomed House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to the fight against the "extremist," "monsters," "hypocritical," "fanatical," "cynical" and "petulant" Tea Party gang. Specifically mentioned was Mr. Boehner’s and Mr. McConnell’s calling out the Tea Party for its opposition to health care reform and being in favor of the government shutdown. Let us examine both issues and open the dialogue on the charges as stated in the editorial.
The writer correctly notes the Tea Party has only come into political prominence since the congressional elections of November 2010. Are we to believe it is responsible for Washington’s years of improvidence since taking up its duties on Jan. 1, 2011. Quite an accomplishment for such a small group of House and Senate Republicans.
Concerning the issue of Tea Party opposition to the ongoing Obamacare debacle, the Tea Party as such was not in Washington in March of 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA -- Obamacare) legislation was enacted. The Tea Party’s objections to Obamacare are basically that it was ill-advised, poorly executed and sold to the American public by patently false statements. The letter mentions elected officials and every American are responsible for "getting the facts and resisting transparently political propaganda." The White House and congressional Democrats have done everything possible to hide the truth surrounding Obamacare.
The legislation was ramrodded through the House and Senate without Republicans being allowed a full debate or having the opportunity to try to amend the statute where they foresaw problems. The most telling proof of this is the now infamous statement from then speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she stated, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy." Fog is an understatement as one congressional Democrat has recently commented that this is a successful disaster.
Rather than delay implementation of Obamacare, as recommended by the Tea Party, the president is determined to continue on course no matter the consequences. As of this date, we have about 500,000 or so individuals enrolled in government sponsored plans or exchanges, there are about 6.5 million individuals who are losing their insurance. Additionally, Americans were told they could keep their doctor and their insurance coverage; statements we now know were false when made by the White House and congressional Democrats.
Concerning the recent government shutdown, this "mess" came about because of the failure of Democrats and Republicans to do that which most families are required to do, keep your financial house in order. Do not spend more than you can afford to repay. During the debates in Congress on the 2011 Budget Control Act the Obama administration devised the plan for a sequester to kick in automatically if Congress failed to come up with a budget bill for funding the government. The sequester simply provided for across the board cuts in spending absent a bill.
As we are all aware, Congress was unable to come up with a bill to address their runaway spending binges resulting in the partial shutdown commencing on October 1, 2013. The shutdown was resolved in part by a deal worked out between Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell including therein a $3 billion earmark for a dam in Sen. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.
So yes, the Tea Party was and remains opposed to business as usual in the Washington mess. Frankly, it must be doing something right if both the establishment Democrats and Republicans are castigating them as being responsible for what is wrong in Washington.
John Cowie is an attorney residing in Adams.