Blaming both sides for the shutdown appeals to people who can’t sort out the political realities
As I’ve argued on several occasions in the past few days, the government shutdown arises from a few incontrovertible facts that many Republicans can’t seem to get through their heads:
In 2008, Barack Obama ran for president on a platform that included health-care reform. He defeated his Republican rival by an electoral-vote margin of 36 percentage points.
The following year, Obamacare was adopted by a majority vote in both houses of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the constitutionality of the measure.
In 2012, Obama’s campaign for a second term as president was based in part on passage of his health-care-reform initiative, while his Republican rival’s campaign was based in part on promising repeal of Obamacare. The president won re-election by an electoral-vote margin of 24 percentage points.
So, the current wave of Republican rhetoric that Obamacare is an unconstitutional scheme that’s been shoved down the throats of the American is totally dishonest. Yet, that rhetoric is the basis for the government shutdown.
But the mainstream media, for the most part, have peddled a meme of false equivalence, blaming “both sides” equally for the shutdown. This kind of nonsense has great appeal to low-information Americans, the folks who have neither the inclination nor the intellect to sort through the political realities of the situation.
Ah, but the editorial board of The Washington Post, an erstwhile leader of the false-equivalence brigade, has finally — albeit gingerly and almost apologetically — broken ranks by offering THIS ARGUMENT:
[T]he Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will.
We don’t come to that view as rabid partisans. On many of the issues stalemating Washington, we find plenty of blame to go around. We’ve criticized President Obama’s reluctance to pursue entitlement reform. The last time the country reached the debt ceiling, we urged both sides to compromise…
This time, fiscal responsibility isn’t even a topic. Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. That law, in case you’ve forgotten in the torrent of propaganda, is hardly revolutionary. It is an effort to extend health insurance to some of the 40 million or so people in this country who have none. It acts through the existing private-insurance market. Republicans tried to block its passage and failed; they hoped to have it declared unconstitutional and failed; and they did their best to toss Mr. Obama out of the White House after one term in order to strangle it in its cradle, and they failed again.
They’re entitled to keep trying, of course — though it would be nice if someday they remembered their promise to come up with an alternative proposal. But their methods now are beyond the pale.
After months of refusing to confer with the Senate on a budget proposal, they have demanded a conference committee to keep the government funded for six weeks. They are rejecting a budget extension that includes limits on federal spending — the so-called sequester — that they insisted on and that Democrats oppose.
Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and their colleagues may be in a difficult political position. Honestly, we don’t much care. They need to reopen the government and let it pay its bills.