The masks are off. The obfuscators and manipulators have shown their true faces.
Today, the extreme right wing of the Republican party in Congress, in collusion with their congressional leadership, forced the partial shutdown of the United States government.
What do these Republicans want? They want unregulated industry with unfettered corporate power supported and defended by American military might. Nothing more. Nothing less. What they don't want is any of their tax dollars used for the benefit of the most unfortunate amongst us.
They have tried repeatedly, more than 40 times, to prevent the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which would make health insurance available to millions of Americans currently without such benefit.
In a last ditch effort to scuttle that reform they attached an extreme "poison pill" demand to defund the law to a continuing congressional resolution that would have kept the federal government functioning for a few weeks. That gambit, too, failed.
After that latest defeat, the House of Representatives, run by the majority Republicans, refused to even vote on the "clean" continuing resolution to fund the government sent to them by the Senate. As a result, the government was starved of the money needed to keep functioning fully and partially closed down.
Interestingly, Fox News is calling this a "slim down," while a Senate Republican group is calling it a "slow down." This new doublespeak, pretending that they are just "slimming" the government, is a way to attack programs one by one, separating each out as individual targets.
This is a too-clever, albeit extreme, way to try to decimate the entire government. Failing to overturn the ACA, the Republicans have now gone "all in" to shrink government to only the programs that will support their cynical, dishonest and greedy aims.
Their plan is to make each and every government program subject to an up or down vote by both houses of Congress. That way they can rid themselves of the burden of the federal social safety net relied upon and supported by millions of Americans.
First, House Republicans proposed that in the event of a shutdown members of the military should still be paid. Of course no one would object to that. So, the Senate Democrats concurred and the bill was signed into law by President Obama. That gave House Speaker John Boehner a precedent to call upon, justifying a piecemeal funding of individual government programs.
Next, the House passed three appropriations resolutions, all universally popular, that would have funded the District of Columbia, veterans programs and national parks. If those passed in the Senate and were signed into law by the president then the Republicans would be free to start passing and, more importantly, rejecting individual government appropriations.
Luckily, the Democrats have seen through this subterfuge. As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "They took hostages by shutting down the government. Now they're releasing one hostage at a time."
The Senate, run by the Democrats, passed a federal budget months ago. Similarly, the House, run by the Republicans, also passed a budget. Under normal congressional rules one of the houses calls for a conference committee of both houses to meet, iron out differences, and agree on a compromise bill to be sent back to Congress for passage and the president for signing into law.
More than 18 times the Republicans have blocked the formation of that committee. That is because they want absolutely no compromise, seeing any and all mutual agreement as defeat. That is completely contrary to how our government is supposed to function and how it has worked for over two hundred years. It is ideology over governance, extortion over deliberation.
The Republicans want to essentially abrogate all the laws on the books and start over. No compromise. No mercy. Their "ownership society" means you are on your own. To do this, they have to demonize federal social safety net programs as they can't stand to see their tax dollars go to help those they believe are beyond help.
Simply put, the Republicans have no problem falsely accusing citizens in need as lazy, dependency-addicted freeloaders feeding on the teat of the nanny state. They think tending to the needs of "those people" is the work of churches and charities and not the role of government. The far-Right sees citizens helping other needy citizens with our tax dollars as socialism, almost communism.
Let's not forget that the rich and powerful who control the Republican members of Congress already have private teachers, doctors, lawyers, bankers, accountants, investment counselors, nannies, maids, drivers, tailors and staffs to provide their every need. They don't need the ever-shrinking Middle Class. They don't need them as workers or as consumers, as they can get both overseas. And, they never needed or cared for the poorest amongst us.
Railing unceasingly against so-called ObamaCare is just the first battle in what is now an all-out war against social programs. Make no mistake, the Republicans are coming after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
They aim to cripple or destroy programs that fund hunger allieviation, tuition support, housing assistance, access to reproductive services, pre-natal care, early childhood education, medical research, infrastructure improvement, job training, workplace safety, environmental protection, voting rights and the general health and safety of the citizenry.
No longer obfuscating their real agenda, it is now clear that the only things the Republicans want from the federal government is non-interference in their exploitations, subsidies to industry and a strong military-industrial complex to protect their financial interests here and abroad.
And they are willing to bring the government to its knees, destroy the full faith and credit of the United States and hurt those of us who are poor, ill, hungry, uneducated, jobless, homeless, disadvantaged, elderly and struggling to extort their extreme minority agenda.
In the Cold War we demonized our communist foes with the slogan, "The only good Commie is a dead Commie." For the Tea Party, their sycophants in the Republican leadership and their cronies in corporate America, "The only good government is a dead government."