Radicals, not conservatives, holding U.S. government hostage

Veteran poltical scientist Norman Orenstein hits the nail on the head in this morning’s column for The Atlantic, which is entitled:  “The Republican Hardliners Aren’t Conservatives, They’re Radicals.”

“In their third iteration of shutdown poker, House Republicans eagerly seized on a new approach: to demand the removal of all subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs for health insurance. They framed this as treating Congress just like other Americans. It is utter nonsense. Most Americans have health insurance through their employers, and the lion’s share of their insurance premiums are paid — tax free — by their employers. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act will change this. Members of Congress and their staff have traditionally been treated the same as other federal employees; they purchase insurance on the federal employees health insurance marketplace, with 72 percent of their premiums covered.

A capricious amendment to the Affordable Care Act offered by Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, moved senators and their staffs off the federal employee health marketplace and onto the new Affordable Care Act exchanges, but it left ambiguous whether their subsidies would remain. (Grassley, remember, engaged in sham negotiations with his “friend” Max Baucus for many months in 2009 to find common ground and compromise on a health reform plan that was based on his own ardent support for the Republican plan to counter the Clinton health plan in 1993-94; he, however, pulled the rug out from under those negotiations and denounced in the strongest terms things he had strongly supported before Barack Obama became president.) Urged on by a bipartisan group of senators, including Tom Coburn, who feared that the removal of subsidies — a unique punishment — would result in a major brain drain in personal offices and committees, the administration said that the subsidies could remain, albeit in a very constrained form.

For the past month or more, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has blocked every significant action in the Senate, whether important for national security, homeland security, or the ability of Senate committees to function, in return for his demand to knock those subsidies out. Now House Republicans have jumped on this faux-populist bandwagon, knowing that anything that smacks of special privilege for Congress — even if falsely so — will be popular back home.

I have talked to enough Senate staffers and senators to know that the fear of a brain drain is real. Many of the most seasoned committee employees, who have enough seniority to retire but who stay in their jobs because they love public service, will bail out if their pay is suddenly cut by several thousand dollars due to the loss of the employer contribution for health insurance. So will plenty of staffers making $40,000 or $50,000, for whom the hit would be proportionately more severe. The Senate as an institution will suffer significantly from a loss of institutional memory and savvy that contributes to a functioning chamber and better laws being written — which ought to be a goal of liberals and conservatives alike.

But many senators who privately complain about Vitter’s obstructionism and demagoguery have been unwilling to stand up and vote to stop him; Republicans in the Senate voted in lockstep to support the House plan.

All that is part of a larger problem that exists, one that has had me referring to the drivers in the GOP not as conservatives but as radicals. Rod Dreher, writing in The American Conservative in a piece called “Republicans, Over the Cliff,” eloquently makes the same point. Conservatives believe in limited government — but also that the government we need to have — the services from national security to homeland security to interstate transportation — should be efficiently and competently provided, and that when government intervenes, it should do so with as much deference to the marketplace as possible.

The current drivers of the GOP are much more hostile to government….”

Read the rest of Orenstein’s column by clicking here.


  1. Jack

    October 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

    The GOP is willing to jeopardize the health and very possibly the lives of their fellow congressmen and their families and their own constituents in an effort to deny the American people healthcare.

    I am schedule to receive chemo therapy in late October at the Durham VA Medical Center. I am deeply concerned that the government shutdown will delay my treatment therefore jeopardizing effective treatment of my colon cancer.

    The government shutdown may be a matter of life and death for me because the therapy is time sensitive and if not administered by October 22 and continued for six months there after a good prognosis is at risk.

    People are at risk due to this shutdown brought on by the GOP. There are those who want to cut Tea Party members out of the GOP by referring to them as a GOP “faction” yet they continue to support the so called faction and their hostile take over of the U.S. Government.

  2. GOP Rules

    October 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    The GOP is willing to take risks to save the country from this fiscal train wreck. No other country with socialized healthcare has as good a system as we do. What do they have? Denial of procedures, rationing, and poor health outcomes. These quotes from Thomas Jefferson do justice and show great foresight into the times we are in now, where the government is putting more of us into bondage:

    “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – The ACA will take care of you!

    “I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive” – we certainly have a government with plenty of energy.

    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – to apply to the so named radicals who are speaking up

  3. RJ

    October 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I have no idea what TJ has to do with the current Republican party’s tantrum over the ACA, but, you know, reading Jefferson now through the lens of knowing he was a pedophilic, deeply-indebted hobby farmer who sold slaves down the river to keep himself in finery makes these sorts of quotes seem a little ripe.

    “Wasting the labors of the people…” What people? He certainly wasted the labor of the human beings he owned.

    “I am not a friend to a very energetic government…” Except when needed to enforce the fugitive slave act, collect a debt, or something like that.

    I guess it’s no surprise that the GOP would make TJ, a narcissistic hypocrite, their paragon of freedom.

  4. LayintheSmakDown

    October 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Good post, Jefferson was a fine patriot who was pretty clearly seeing the path we are going down here. I love that first one…especially in light of RJ….who is in favor of doing the same thing now only with the government being the prime motivator now. I guess it is ok to have progresso approved bondage.

  5. Alex

    October 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    My nephew who is a student was notified today that his BCBS insurance will now be doubled for the upcoming year. Good going Obamacare !

  6. Alan

    October 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    GOP Rules,

    What a load of ****. “No other country with socialized healthcare has as good a system as we do. What do they have? Denial of procedures, rationing, and poor health outcomes”. Are you serious? Have you ever even lived outside of the US and experienced this so-called “socialized healthcare”? I think not. It’s the typical right-wing BS you people spread to scare the stupid & the ignorant (aka the GOP base). Are you really that ignorant of facts, or is this just the same old BS that the US has the #1 healthcare system in the world, when in reality it ranks behind MANY industrialized nations. Go take a look at WHO or OECD statistics and you’ll see where the ‘#1’ US healthcare is actually placed.

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good talking point…

    Sounds to me like GOP and LSD are one and the same person, it’ll be real funny when these two start arguing…

  7. Susan

    October 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I have been saying for years that some republicans are not conservative, they are radicals!

    As to government run single-payer health care in other countries – it may not be perfect, BUT EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY THAT HAS THIS GETS MUCH, MUCH, MUCH BETTER RESULTS AT LESS THAN HALF THE COST.

    We are #37 at health care outcomes, among all countries, with our current system.

    We are #1 in infant mortality rates among developed first world countries.

    We are #1 in cost per person for health care among ALL countries.

    We need to kick health insurance companies to the curb and have single payer health CARE for all. The “insurance” part is just wasting our money.

  8. Jim Wiseman

    October 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Some “progressives” are radical. They are known as “communists.”

  9. GOP Rules

    October 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Never let facts get in the way of a nice liberal rant. Go research the socailized healthcare systems on an apples to apples basis with an open mind and you will see the rationing etc. That is the only result that can happen when you have a command economy.

    I love your comment Jim. I would take out “some” though.

  10. Alan

    October 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    GOP Rules,

    I don’t need to research it at all, I have a lot of experience of your so-called “socialized medicine”, having lived in Europe for many years. There is no rationing etc. as you describe it. Your comments are more of the same old “keep’em scared” tactics of the GOP. I would suggest that you be the one to do a little research, as you’re statements are clearly uninformed (no surprise here…). Like I stated earlier, go check the WHO and OECD data, then let me know where the US healthcare system ranks.

    Now, don’t let the facts get in the way or your GOP propaganda.

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