I’m just going to come out and say it: the 232 Republican members of the United States House of Representatives are terrorists.
This may sound harsh, but let’s think about the definition of terrorism.
terrorism [ ter-uh-riz-uhm ]
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
Did House Republicans threaten violence and intimidation to coerce for political purposes? Absolutely.
Just days before what are sure to be the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into place, House Republicans threatened to shut the government down unless the ACA was repealed or delayed. Mind you, this is a law that was passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the first president since Eisenhower to be twice elected with more than 51% of the popular vote. Additionally, the law survived a Supreme Court challenge.
The bill was debated on the floors of the House and the Senate. Republican ideas like the individual mandate and the statute allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 were included. Democrats made concessions, abandoning hope for a single-payer system, and later even the much more milquetoast “public option” as an effort to win over republicans and “Blue Dog” democrats.
The United States Senate passed the bill on December 24, 2009, by a vote of 60-39; and the House followed suit on March 21, 2010, by a vote of 219-212. On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was signed into law by President Obama.
While Republicans found themselves in a position to take control of the House of Representatives in 2010, they were unable to take control of the Senate, as the Democrats still controlled the majority of the seats (51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 2 Indpendents who Caucused with the Democrats).
Even if the Republicans were able to convince 4 Democrats to join their efforts to repeal the law (and assuming the remaining Democratic senators wouldn’t have filibustered a vote), they still wouldn’t be able to repeal this law, as it surely would have been vetoed by President Obama. The efforts to override this veto would have failed in both chambers, as this would require a 2/3 majority.
In 2012, the Democrats increased their hold on the United States Senate, expanding their majority to 55 senators within the Democratic Caucus and 45 within the Republican Caucus. In the House, while the Republicans remained in power, they lost a net of 7 seats to the Democrats. Additionally, President Obama was reelected, winning both the popular vote and the electoral vote.
With this knowledge, you would think that the Republicans would come to the realization that the will of the people was to leave this law alone. After all, presidential candidate Mitt Romney had once said that “on day 1, I will appeal Obamacare!” and managed to lose in a very decisive way. (He must have forgotten that a president cannot simply repeal a law on his own accord, but that he would need a repeal that would pass through the House and Senate. Barring strong performance by Republicans in senate races, which didn’t materialize, even a President Romney wouldn’t have been able to repeal this law).
This is where a reasonable group of people might throw in the towel, realize that their dream of repealing this law was simply something that the majority of the country did not want. These are not reasonable people.
Knowing that a continuing resolution for the federal budget needed to be passed (as neither Democrats, nor Republicans agreed on a permanent budget) by the end of September 2013, Republicans began dreaming up ways they could force Democrats to repeal or defund their own law.
Speaker Boehner and his colleagues in the House passed continuing resolution, but added a section unrelated to any budget issue (remember, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office ruled that the Affordable Care Act actually reduces the long-term federal deficit) that would simultaneously repeal “Obamacare.” Repeatedly asked to pass a resolution that didn’t contain this odd clause, House Republicans refused, leaving the Senate Democrats and President Obama with a decision: repeal their own healthcare bill by passing and signing this resolution (later versions of the Republican-passed resolutions simply said to delay implementation by a year, something they called a compromise), or continue to wait for the House to send over a resolution without this absurd and unrelated language.
The House refused to pass a clean resolution and allowed the government to shut down.
It’s one thing to debate the merits of a law, hold votes, and so on. It’s another to essentially hold a gun to the head of the American people in a “give me what I want or the country gets it!” kind of way.
Intentionally forcing the government over a shutdown (which will result in the death of American lives) over the other side’s refusal to repeal a law that had been debated, signed, and the law of the land since 2010 is, by definition, terrorism, with the House Republicans as terrorists.
This particular brand of terrorism also comes with a body count. Cancer patients at the federally-funded National Cancer Institute were turned away as the shutdown began, ending the potentially life-saving treatment they had been receiving. Additionally, on average, 30 children living with cancer will be turned away from National Institute of Health trials, leaving them to slowly die from their illness. FDA safety inspections have been suspended, leaving the quality of the food we eat now in question. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not issue any car or truck recalls during the shut down, so I suppose we had better hope that none of the 2 ton-plus pound vehicles on the road have anything like a dangerous brake or accelerator issue.
This issue was never about “finding a compromise.” This was always 100% about Republicans forcing their will on the American people, acting outside of the democratic system of government they were elected to.
Mr. President, you cannot negotiate with terrorists, and that’s exactly what John Boehner and his colleagues are.
The War on Terror continues at home, and Speaker Boehner is public enemy #1.