Majority rule can be a difficult proposition. In the ideal scenario, elected leaders negotiate, debate and craft legislation that provides a balanced and well-reasoned final product.
In reality, the usual outcome involves celebration by some and moaning by others. And in the polarized world of congressional politics, the moaning has a tendency to last long past the final vote, particularly with big, important legislation like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Republicans have vowed to fight the act and have taken the country to the precipice for only the second time in three decades, shutting down the government for their refusal to pass a federal budget that includes funding for Obamacare.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., stands front and center in this hostile maneuver as chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee.
Walden told the Oregonian last week that the government shutdown may not turn out to be a political negative in the 2014 midterm elections.
“Public anger over the government shutdown could fade by the next election and be replaced by voter ire at the impact of the new health care law,” reporter Jeff Mapes wrote.
Walden’s comments show disrespect and disregard for voters across the country, for his district constituents affected by the shutdowns and for the estimated 800,000 federal workers furloughed — who currently aren’t eligible to be paid if they’re not working, or may be paid for not working at the taxpayers’ expense if legislators have their way — while legislators jockey for advantage. The time for slippery tactics on this issue is over.
The Obamacare bill that passed in both chambers was a compromise measure that provided for quite a few market solutions designed to avoid economic disruption as much as possible, to make sure more people have access to health insurance coverage and to avoid the doom and gloom that the Grand Old Party has peddled ever since.
It was duly passed by a majority of elected legislators in both houses and signed by the president, making it the law of the land.
If the opposition can’t muster enough backing to pass repeal legislation, it’s time to give this law the best opportunity it has to succeed — with adequate funding.
Walden said voters may appreciate the effort to delay Obamacare “until we got it right.”
But that is the patented, copyrighted line of obstructionist thinking.
Legislators who want to keep new laws from happening frequently use the argument that something isn’t “quite right” to avoid doing anything at all, including what is right.
Walden has his own proposal for health care reform that sounds quite persuasive in broad strokes, but would probably require every bit of the 2,000 pages to implement that he bemoaned in the Obamacare law. In fact, many of the tenets of Walden’s plan sound suspiciously like Obamacare itself.
Walden’s problem is that we already have a health care reform law, and it deserves an opportunity to be tested.
Once it is tested, if it is found lacking, Walden and his cohort can pursue improvements in new legislation — providing he has enough political will behind him to make it happen.
In the meantime, he takes a big risk in thinking voters won’t remember the precipitous actions of the Republicans in October, particularly if the shutdown stretches beyond a few days and into weeks. Americans are already feeling the effects of closed national parks and monuments. Soon understaffed agencies will become an obstruction to the business of the nation.
Do the instigaters of this impasse think voters will forget that they have been unwilling to do their jobs on the most important business of the nation?
Perhaps they think we will be tantalized by shiny objects from the public trough.
It is up to the voters of this country to show our displeasure for the antics and bad behavior of our elected — and easily unelected — leaders.