Consensus starts to emerge: House GOP is loony

Even Paul Krugman — who is such a bitter, contemptuous partisan that I avoided running his columns at the newspaper — thought maybe he was going overboard a bit by calling the GOP’s maneuvers on funding Obamacare and the rest of government “crazy:”

In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.

I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past…

But aside from the typically Krugmanesque assertion that the GOP was stupid before it was crazy (everyone who disagrees with Krugman is stupid — just ask him; he’ll tell you), the economist really wasn’t going out on much of a limb in this instance.

He was simply stating something that seems to be emerging as a consensus across the political spectrum. Among people who have clue, that is.

While his language is milder, Gerald Seib, writing in that wild-eyed liberal publication The Wall Street Journal, is similarly dismissive of the sanity of GOP House members’ actions:

The list of conservatives who didn’t want the House to do what it did late last week—that is, pass a bill trying to defund Obamacare, at the risk of shutting down the government—is long and distinguished: Karl Rove, Rep. Pete King, Sen. John McCain, the editorial page of this newspaper, even the House’s own Republican leadership.

But House Republicans went ahead anyway, passing a bill tying the financing of government operations starting Oct. 1 with the removal of money for implementing the new health law. The bill won’t pass the Senate, and it won’t be signed by the president, but it may lead to a partial closure of the government that many believe would be politically disastrous for the Republican Party.

Which raises again the question that animates much of the conversation in the capital: Why do House Republicans do the things they do?..

He goes on to answer himself with a primer on what most of us already understand about House Republicans. Basically, that these people’s experience of government doesn’t precede the existence of the Tea Party, and that they are elected from districts that are so safe for a Republican that a GOP member need only fear a primary challenge. Stuff, as I said, we knew already. Although he reminded me of a fact I had forgotten if I knew it: That these districts are SO grossly gerrymandered that Republican candidates in the aggregate “lost the popular vote for the House in 2012 by more than a million votes nationally, yet kept control of the House by 33 seats.” (Although I see this writer disagrees that redistricting was the culprit.)

Then there is Judd Gregg, a Republican and former senator from New Hampshire, who writes for The Hill:

Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should.

The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree.

An approach to the debt ceiling that says one will not vote for its extension unless ObamaCare is defunded is the political equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers of the gun loaded. It is the ultimate no-win strategy….

… which almost makes Krugman sound temperate. Gregg continues:

You cannot in politics take a hostage you cannot shoot. That is what the debt ceiling is. At some point, the debt ceiling will have to be increased not because it is a good idea but because it is the only idea.

Defaulting on the nation’s obligations, which is the alternative to not increasing the debt ceiling, is not an option either substantively or politically…

He goes on to write about the destruction that defaulting on our debt would wreak on the world’s economy — something about which the babbling infants in the House (half of the GOP members have been there less than three years) and their fellow loony in the Senate, Ted Cruz, care not at all.

The people who elected them, and who will vote for someone crazier in a GOP primary if these individuals don’t act with gross irresponsibility, don’t know or care what sort of harm their actions could bring about, so they don’t know or care, either. This is apparently regarded, by at least one writer at RedState, as a good thing.

Here’s how James Taranto, whose standard tone in his Best of the Web Today column at the WSJ is every bit as dismissive of the left as Krugman is of the right, characterizes Ted Cruz’s effort to support the House GOP effort to defund Obamacare. After noting the commonsense fact that there is “no realistic prospect of enacting the House resolution,” he writes:

Instead of playing possum, a group of Senate Republicans led by Texas freshman Ted Cruz propose to play Otter: “I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!“…

Taranto then casts Sarah Palin in the role of Bluto, given her op-ed at in which she essentially said, “We’re just the guys to do it.”

OK, so from the left and the right, we’re seeing such modifiers as “crazy,” “futile,” stupid,” and “appalling.”

To all of those qualities, let us add disingenuousness. Here is the entire text of a release that Joe Wilson, my congressman, sent out on Friday:

Wilson: Senate and President Must Act


(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after the House passed the Continuing Resolution which funds the government through December 15, 2013.

“Today, House Republicans have acted responsibly by passing a solution to keep the government’s doors open.  Because of our efforts, American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law and hardworking taxpayers can rest assured that our nation will stop spending beyond its means.


“It’s time for the Senate and the President to act.   Time is ticking. We have ten short days until the federal government’s funding will expire. Senate Democrats should follow our lead and join us in protecting the American people, rather than placing politics over policy and threatening a government shutdown,” Congressman Joe Wilson said.

Note that only a passing reference is made to the actual point of the resolution for House Republicans: “…American families are protected from the unworkable, unaffordable healthcare law…” What an odd choice of words: “protected from.” He avoids saying what the measure does, which is deny funding to a program that is set in place by law — a law which he and his allies have demonstrated, an amazing number of times, that they are utterly incapable of repealing.

Then there is the really, truly cheesy dodge of making like it’s all on the president and the Senate whether the government is funded or not. Who are the children that Joe and the other Republicans who voted for this think will be fooled by that? Who will think, if the government shuts down, that anything other than the GOP obsession with Obamacare is to blame?

These guys are far gone. And everyone, on left and right, except them, seems to know it.

50 thoughts on “Consensus starts to emerge: House GOP is loony

  1. Burl Burlingame

    Cruz is crazy like a fox. When the US gummit is shut down, Texas can secede from the union without anyone noticing.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Which improves his chances of being President of somewhere. His US citizenship is questionable, since he must establish his mother’s US residency for a period of time prior to his birth……

      1. Doug Ross

        Really,Kathyrn? Are you going to start this “he isn’t a citizen” stuff?

        It has already been determined he is eligible. He dealt with it a lot faster than Obama did.

        “As Dallas Morning News reporter Todd Gillman reported Monday, Cruz’s birth certificate is unequivocal: He was born in Alberta, Canada. But his mother is a U.S. citizen born in Wilmington, Del. Because of his birthplace, Cruz is a Canadian citizen, but that has no effect on his status as a natural-born U.S. citizen — whether he renounces his Canadian citizenship or not.”

        Just keep telling yourselves the Tea Party is a fringe group…. this isn’t the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. They have enough traction and enough support across the country to do what they are doing. Even our “stick my finger in the wind to see which way its blowing” Senator Graham had this to say on Monday about Obamcare:

        ““This bill sucks, it really does,” Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer.

        Read more:

          1. Doug Ross

            Ha… that Salon article looks like it came from the Donald Trump Handbook. Pure speculation and what ifs. It’s purely about him renouncing one half of his DUAL citizenship.

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            Nope, it’s real law. Doesn’t say Cruz isn’t a citizen. Says it will be tricky for him to prove it.

          3. Doug Ross

            The article is about him renouncing the Canadian half of his dual citizenship. That’s it. Where does it say that he is not also an American citizen?

            Salon used to be a decent site but it has turned into MSNBC-lite. The majority of the political articles are hit pieces about Republicans.. with loaded headlines using words like “scary”, ‘insane”, etc. They also have discovered that if you use the word “Rand” in a headline it must drive more clicks.

            They should stick to articles like “End stupid twerking jokes once and for all”. That’s their wheelhouse.

          4. Kathryn Fenner

            Read the third paragraph from the end. It does not say he is not a US citizen. It says he has proof issues.

          5. FParker

            I believe if I had been drinking anything it would have come out of my nose once I realized that this came from a diehard Obama supporter.

          6. Doug Ross


            I read it. Multiple times looking for the “smoking gun”. Do you know if Cruz will have difficulty proving his mother was in the U.S. for the required period of time? Is there any evidence that it will be a problem? As I said at the start of this discussion, it is pure speculation and hypothetical dreaming. The real purpose of the article was buried in the last paragraph: to have another chance to hammer Cruz on his stance against Obamacare (which has NOTHING to do with his citizenship).

            It’s amazing when people either can’t see their own hypocrisy when it comes to things like this or else fall back on “well, they did it FIRST!”.

            This is and will be a non-issue.

          7. Bryan Caskey

            For goodness sake, y’all. It’s not hard. I’m going to go through this once and once only. After that, I’m not going back into it. Ready? Ok:

            Here’s the actual law, according to the USCIS:

            Cruz was born on December 22, 1970, so that’s the part of the law that applies to his case.

            Cruz’s mother was born in Delaware and grew up in the US. That covers the 10 years. She graduated from Rice University in Texas, so that would cover the 5 years after age 14 requirement. She didn’t move to Canada until the 60s, so she spent more time than that in the US.

            Cruz acquired his citizenship, at birth, through his mother. He is a natural born US citizen and eligible to be President of the United States.

            Let us never have to speak of this again.

        1. tired old man

          Wow, Doug: Does that mean –taking your own words, but substituting Obama for Cruz that: Obama’s birth certificate is unequivocal: He was born in Hawaii. But his mother is a U.S. citizen born in the USAl. Because of his birthplace,Obama is an American citizen, but that has no effect on his status as a natural-born U.S. citizen — whether he renounces his American citizenship or not.”

          Seems like a whole bunch of your crazies on the fringe were distraught about Obama’s citizenship.

          It’s all a tempest in a tea cup — which indeed is marginalizing Republicans as a political force or ideology.

          1. Doug Ross

            Yes, Tired Old Man… anyone who spends more than a half second on the birth certificate issues of Obama or Ted Cruz should find something more meaningful to talk about. It’s for lunatics on both edges of the political spectrum.

            When did I ever say a word about his birth certificate? I never cared. I care more about his policies.

        2. bud

          He dealt with it a lot faster than Obama did.

          That is an offensive comment. He NEVER NEEDED TO DEAL WITH IT. It was the Tea Party lunatics that made up this birther nonsense. Obama was born in Hawaii. There was NEVER any doubt about that but that doesn’t seem to be good enough for folks like Donald Trump.

          1. Bart

            bud, at least get your facts straight about who started the birth thing for Obama. According to most reports, the first mention of his place of birth other than Hawaii was by the Hillary Clinton campaign way back in 2007. The “Tea Party” movement started after the failed Ron Paul campaign in 2008. After the Hillary campaign started the “rumor” just as the Bush campaign started the illegitimate black baby rumor about McCain, it gained traction in all of the media, not just the right wing talk radio and Fox opinion shows. Chris Matthews made a big deal out of it in an interview in 2007 when he made reference to Obama being born in Indonesia.

            No denying it was a waste of time and an exercise in futility for the Birthers but the same can be said about the “Grassy Knoll” and “Twin Tower” conspiracy theorists to name a couple more.

  2. Doug Ross

    If the goal of the Tea Party is to stop the coming train wreck known as Obamacare, they should be applauded.

    Every day the stories keep coming out about states not being ready, people losing their current insurance, or rates rising significantly, as well as other known errors in the bill that will cause people a lot of pain.

    When it fails, there will only be one group of people who will be able to say “We tried to stop you from shooting yourself in the foot”.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, regarding your assertion that Obamacare will be a “train wreck”…

      Interestingly, the Obamacare opponents on the right disagree with each other on that point, as Taranto pointed out in his piece today.

      Sarah Palin is with you — she says train wreck. Or as she has it, in her typically hyperbolic fashion, the “nightmare of Obamacare.” Taranto agrees with her.

      But the Tea Party’s Horatio at the bridge, Sen. Cruz, opposes Obamacare for the opposite reason — he believes it will be successful, and so popular that, if opponents let it be enacted, there will never be any repealing it. (Interestingly, these folks fail to notice that even now, before it’s had a chance to be a success, there’s no repealing it, despite their bizarre ritual of having tried 42 times.)

      I don’t know which is correct. I just know it should be given a chance to succeed (and of course, funded). Then, if it fails, it should be replaced with something that works. Not even trying is what’s crazy.

      1. Doug Ross

        Lamar Alexander and Max Baucus each used the “train wreck” metaphor. They hardly match the Tea Party profile.

        And Lindsey says it “sucks”. Do you think he’s completely wrong this time?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I HOPE he’s wrong.

          As I say, I don’t know whether this is going to work or not. I hope it does, because the likelihood of us subbing it out with what we really need, single-payer, seems slight to me.

          A lot of people who oppose Obamacare think it’s a sneaky way to get us single-payer. I wish I thought they were right, and that it would work in THAT respect…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And as I’ve probably said before, I have a lot of respect for Lamar. He and I go way back.

            In fact, I have great respect for all male senators whose first names start with “L.”

            (I wouldn’t have limited it to male senators, except I don’t know enough about Lisa Murkowski to know whether to include her…)

    2. bud

      Most of the stories are false. Obamacare may need much tweaking but it will likely be of great benefit to millions of American once fully implemented. Let’s not forget that healthcare costs were increasing MUCH faster in 2000-2004 than they are now.

      1. Doug Ross

        Right, bud. It’s all Fox News’ lies. Keep telling yourself that.

        Oh, and I suppose the NY Times and USA Today are part of the right wing conspiracy.

    3. Norm Ivey

      Obamacare™ is coming, and there’s nothing left Cruz or anyone else can do about it. They’ve proved that themselves. What they, as public servants, should be doing–regardless of how they feel about it politically or personally–is to make sure that it gets implemented in the best possible manner, and to aid their constituents in navigating it and making informed decisions. If it is indeed going to be a train wreck, a good amount of the blame for the wreck has to be placed on the shoulders of those who have dragged their feet, and misinformed the public, and obstinately refused to expand Medicare in South Carolina and other states.

      1. Doug Ross

        It will be a train wreck BECAUSE of the bill not because of the actions of Republicans. Republicans do not build software systems and they did not vote for the thousands of pages of taxes and regulations that will be implemented.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    I think the GOP should focus on the waivers. It’s obscene that Congress and its staff (along with those who have the favor of the King – I mean President) get exempted from a law.

    I say: No waivers for anyone. If I have to comply with this law, then everyone (especially Congress) should have to comply with the same.

    1. Silence

      Yes. First put the federal workforce on the exchanges. Congress, congressional staff, military, families and dependents, every single General Schedule or SES employee need to be the first ones signed up. Barack, Michelle, Sasha, Malia and Bo too.

    2. Juan Caruso

      “I say: No waivers for anyone. If I have to comply with this law, then everyone (especially Congress) should have to comply with the same.”

      An excellent move, Bryan, but much too politically embarrassing for responsible leaders and much too painful for the beneficiaries (after all, the essence of socialist programs is always flagrant favoritism).
      What you, I and probably most Americans would consider an equitable correction of Obamacare’s implementation, those who wrote the open-ended scheme would probably consider cosmetic (why they omitted the waivers originally).

      The major, train-wreck issue is that the federal government has just been a very, very, very poor manager of any major program. Rather than base decisions on business-like goals, the U.S. Gov. makes decisions designed to demonstrate “good intentions”, deflect accountability, cover up mistakes, solve problems by throwing $$$ more money at them, allow FW&A, etc.

      Consider the fatal goofs made by VA Hospitals due to poor hygiene practices and failure to correct know risks timely). Next, consider operations of USPS (not even 1/20th of US economy versus 1/6th like the ACA) is a prime example of federal mismanagement.

      Were such organizations private, Warren Buffet, the “Sage of Omaha”, would NEVER buy stock in either based upon their legacies of poor management alone.

    3. bud

      I keep hearing this “waiver” business. Seems like a Fox News spin point. Congress is provided a healthcare plan the same as other employees in business are provided. One of the selling points is that you can keep the plan you already have, which in my case is true. So why is that a “waiver”?

      1. Juan Caruso

        Sorry, Bud, had not realized that you were a member of Congress (the issue Bryan Caskey actually raised). No one said you had a waiver until you personalized the idea.

        Nice try at derailing Bryan’s point, however, which is a bitter pill the public is unlikely to digest without severe disgust and continued agita.


  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    I’m not sure I’m following the “Congress should have to comply” line of reasoning.

    The exchanges are for people who don’t currently have insurance through their employers, right?

    I don’t think it would be a good idea to dump the federal workforce into the exchanges.

    What we SHOULD be doing is the opposite — all of us should be getting the same insurance that Congress, and federal employees, get now. Not taking away their insurance and forcing them into these exchanges, which are for those who are not covered now…

  5. FParker

    Has anyone actually sat down and ran the calculators to see how this will affect them? I haven’t but three people that I know have, a young newly married couple is going to see their monthly premiums go up nearly $400 for less coverage/higher deductible, a family of four is going to see an increase of nearly $1000 per month, the third said it increased significantly but didn’t go any further.

    Then there’s the whole “family glitch” issue.

    1. bud

      Let’s fix the family glitch thing. I’m in favor of that.

      As for the cost going up thing, as I’ve tried to explain before, costs went up faster in the 2001-2004 than they have since 2009. Besides, picking a choosing a few families to illustrate problems doesn’t take into account the millions of people who will gain huge benefits, especially the millions who will actually have insurance is intellectually dishonest.

      1. FParker

        Who’s picking and choosing, I didn’t poll everyone I knew to get these results, these are results from people who have mentioned about how this is going to affect them. I suspect it’s more than a handful of people being affected. Small business owners are going to get killed over this fiasco.

      2. FParker

        Those millions of people are gaining huge benefits off the backs of those who go to work everyday to try and make an honest living.

    2. Norm Ivey

      Have your acquaintances considered how much their health care costs would increase without Obamacare™? My costs have been increasing for years, and I have no reason to believe they would not have increased as much as they are this year as well. And did your acquaintances remember to calculate in any subsidies they are eligible for? For example, a married couple with no children and a combined income of $50,000 are eligible for over $1200 in subsidies. A family of 4 with an income of $80,000 would get subsidies of $7600 a year. I have friends who have found that when they include subsidies, their anticipated costs are going to essentially flatline, while my costs in an employer-sponsored plan will increase.

      1. FParker

        I didn’t ask specifics. But that said, I just ran a realistic estimate of what I believe their financial income is, in both cases they got $0 in subsidies. Neither are 1%ers.

        1. Norm Ivey

          I understand the calculator is using averages and may not apply in specific examples, but a married couple would have to have an income of at least $53,000 (about 58%ers) in SC to be at $0 subsidies. The calculator indicates that an average Silver plan runs about $5.000 in SC. If their insurance costs are going to increase $400 a month ($4800 a year), they may have a much better plan (Gold level or above), or they may want to shop around for another provider. Or they had no insurance at all before. The same analysis applies to the family of 4. If they are getting $0 in subsidies, they make at least $87,000 (75%ers). An increase of $1000 a month is more than the total cost of the average Silver policy, so again, they should probably shop around.

  6. bud

    Salon used to be a decent site but it has turned into MSNBC-lite. The majority of the political articles are hit pieces about Republicans..

    And how exactly does that make them a non-decent site? The Republican party really has become such a bunch of lunies that telling the truth comes across as a “hit piece”.

    1. Doug Ross


      As someone who has followed Salon since its inception (and was dumb enough to buy stock in it back in the internet bubble), I know what I’m talking about. The tone of the posts have changed drastically in the past year. The top stories every day are about Republicans or libertarians or how unfair the world is. Apparently there are no good stories to tell about Democrats so they just throw raw meat to the remaining Occupiers and vegetarians who come looking for their latest talking points.

      1. Doug Ross

        Here’s what Salon is about these days. The top story at this moment is entitled ““Modern Family” is a class-blind fantasy world” – a long essay about how the most popular television sitcom doesn’t accurately reflect the struggles of real life. Really.

        What’s next? An in-depth analysis of how Gilligan’s Island was a metaphor for the demise of the U.S. family structure?

  7. bud

    Paul Krugman is not a partisan, he’s a pragmatist and his columns make a whole lost of sense. Here’s an excerpt out of a column he wrote yesterday:

    “The New York Times recently published a fascinating portrait of a society being poisoned by extreme inequality. The society in question is, in principle, highly meritocratic. In practice, inherited wealth and connections matter enormously; those not born into the upper tier are, and know themselves to be, at a huge disadvantage.”

    What in that paragraph is “partisan”? It’s a pretty measured opinion based on facts. If that is partisan then there is really nothing that can be uttered as an opinion piece that is not partisan.

  8. Bart

    The Republicans are lacking leadership at the highest level and the infighting is great press for Democrats. People like Cruz remind me of the old days when Strom Thurmond would spend hour after hour filibustering. A Strom Thurmond Cruz definitely ain’t.

    The mixture of ideologies within the ranks equals oil + water and they do not mix well. Finding common ground that makes sense and can appeal to the average voter is simply not an option for the extreme fringes in the party. The old school Republicans who were willing to reach across the aisle have learned their lesson from Obama when they tried in the beginning and were informed rather bluntly to paraphrase, “we won, you lost, elections have consequences, sit down and shut up, go to the back of the bus”. But, when you have as close to a super majority as Obama had, he had good reason to be arrogant because the opposition couldn’t stop him.

    The Republicans will make a comeback just as the Democrats did. The Democrats screwed up and when the Republicans regain power, they will load the gun with six bullets and shoot themselves in the foot seven times. Barney Fife will have his one bullet in his to account for the 7th shot.

  9. bud

    Truth is I care more about my country than I do the Democratic party. I could care less if they win elections if it wasn’t so important to the good of the nation. Pathetic as they are they really are our only hope to save us from the dangerous lunatics in the GOP. Sadly with analysts like Brad and Robert J Samuelson we continue to be given this “balanced” approach from much of the world of journalism. And that does not serve us well at a time when the truth is needed more than ever.

    1. Juan Caruso

      Senator Harry Reid said it is “embarrassing that these people who are elected to represent the country are representing the tea party, the anarchists.”

      Clearly, Reid’s party (“Pathetic as they are” – Bud) does not represent the “tea party”.

      Reid admonished Republichans this morning for “representing the tea party, the anarchists.” In summary then, the Senates’ Majority Leader wants the Tea Party (the amorphous coalition of U.S. voters who won the House for Republichans in 2010, to have no effective representation in congress.

      Sound fair to you, Bud? Reid’s outburst is as un-American, uncollegial, partisan and venal as any senatorial pronouncement in living history. Shame on those who think leaders like Reid could really represent the “good of the nation”. The dunce Reid is now the worst example of supernumerary lawyers in elected office.

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