Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Shutdown Express Rolls Into Town Again

Actually, no, we're not sorry at all
Stop me if you've heard this one before. The fiscal year ends in a couple weeks, on September 30th, and we are once again hearing a chorus of voices threatening to refuse to fund the US government if their ideological demands aren't met. As usual these demands are so extreme and so toxic that they can't accomplish them with legislation, so the only path they have is political terrorism. Do the incredibly unpopular things we demand or we'll blow up the entire system. This time it's not the deficit, and it's not Obamacare. Oh no. This time it's orders of magnitude more extreme and stupid than those - this time it's Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is a very popular reproductive health services delivery program, depended on by well over 100 million Americans every year. Virtually nobody who isn't a privileged white male fascist wants to see Planned Parenthood defunded. But beyond that, it's unclear what they even mean when they say they want to defund Planned Parenthood. They shriek that Planned Parenthood gets HALF A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR from the government - and that's  sort of true. As a non-profit organization, PP reports its revenue every year, and they did receive over $500 million from federal, state and local governments. But here's the thing. Over $400 million of that, about 80%, was Medicaid reimbursements. In other words, it wasn't the government giving money to Planned Parenthood, it was a government insurance program reimbursing doctors for perfectly legal and important health care work. 71 million Planned Parenthood patients are covered by Medicaid. Are they suggesting they could pass legislation preventing Medicaid from reimbursing doctors if they see patients under the auspices of Planned Parenthood? Even without a Democratic filibuster or a Presidential veto, I just don't see how you could even write, let alone pass, a bill like that.

Now, this time around, the Republican leadership is no longer delusional - they are quite sanguine in their acknowledgment that it is their party and their candidates that will suffer if they shut down the government again. But they are also terrified - they know that if they don't find a way to at least appear to go along with Ted Cruz and his band of thugs, they could lose their positions within the legislature, and they could even lose their seats. The sop they're throwing the tea party loonies is a hopeless and probably unconstitutional bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. But the rabble is up in arms over a very specific entity - Planned Parenthood - and at this point it doesn't look like the leadership can talk them down with another hopeless tilt at the abortion windmill.

At any rate, we'll see how it all plays out over the next eighteen days or so.

Note: But politics watchers, don't despair. The budget will work itself out either at the last minute or after a short, ugly shutdown, probably with another short term continuing resolution. But that doesn't mean the high wire act is over. Oh no. Remember, we hit the debt ceiling back in March, but the usual 'extraordinary measures' employed by the Treasure coupled with $40 billion more in taxes collected than expected has allowed the government to limp along. Nobody can say when they'll need to raise the cap, but most observers are looking at November. So another bloody debt ceiling fight looms around Thanksgiving, so keep your popcorn handy.


  1. It is kind of our enemies to make themselves so ridiculous. Now, if only we could keep them out of power....

  2. if only there were a Republican leader who could explain to the ninnies, slowly & clearly, that none of their political & ideological desires will ever pass the Congress & they should give up.

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha!

  3. Across the pond, someone found a way to inspire people who don't normally vote to do so.

    The press hate it.

  4. "This time it's orders of magnitude more extreme[...]"
    The only way for them to go is further to the right. Moving to the left is unpossible.