Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Who shut Johnny out of the parks?

October 5, 2013

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— The Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths. The most egregious concern the substance of the fight, the identity of the perpetrators and the origins of the current eruption.

(1) Substance

President Obama indignantly insists that GOP attempts to abolish or amend Obamacare are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court.

Yes, settledness makes for a strong argument — except from a president whose administration has unilaterally changed Obamacare five times after its passage, including, most brazenly, a yearlong suspension of the employer mandate.

Article 1 of the Constitution grants the legislative power entirely to Congress. Under what constitutional principle has Obama unilaterally amended the law? Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the other mandate — the individual mandate — this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage, while unilateral amendment by the executive (with a Valerie Jarrett blog item for spin) is perfectly fine?

(2) Perpetrators

The mainstream media have been fairly unanimous in blaming the government shutdown on the GOP. Accordingly, House Republicans presented three bills to restore funding to national parks, veterans and the District of Columbia government. Democrats voted down all three. (For procedural reasons, the measures required a two-thirds majority.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t even consider these refunding measures. And the White House has promised a presidential veto.

The reason is obvious: to prolong the pain and thus add to the political advantage gained from a shutdown blamed on the GOP. They are confident the media will do a “GOP makes little Johnny weep at the closed gates of Yellowstone, film at 11” despite Republicans having just offered legislation to open them.

(3) Origins

The most ubiquitous conventional wisdom is that the ultimate cause of these troubles is out-of-control tea party anarchists.

But is this really where the causal chain ends? The tea party was created by Obama’s first-term overreach, most specifically Obamacare. This frantic fight against it today is the fruits of the way it was originally enacted.

From Social Security to civil rights to Medicaid to Medicare, never in the modern history of the country has major social legislation been enacted on a straight party-line vote. Never. In every case, there was significant reaching across the aisle, enhancing the law’s legitimacy and endurance. Yet Obamacare — which revolutionizes one-sixth of the economy, regulates every aspect of medical practice and intimately affects just about every citizen — passed without a single GOP vote.

The Democrats insist they welcomed contributing ideas from Republicans. Rubbish. Republicans proposed that insurance be purchasable across state lines. They got nothing. They sought serious tort reform. They got nothing. Why? Because, admitted Howard Dean, Democrats didn’t want to offend the trial lawyers.

Moreover, the administration was clearly warned. Republican Scott Brown ran in the most inhospitable of states, Massachusetts, on the explicit promise to cast the deciding vote blocking Obamacare. It was January 2010, the height of the debate. He won. Reid ignored this unmistakable message of popular opposition and conjured a parliamentary maneuver — reconciliation — to get around Brown.

Nothing illegal about that. Nothing illegal about ramming it through without a single opposition vote. Just totally contrary to the modern American tradition — and the constitutional decency — of undertaking major social revolutions only with bipartisan majorities. Having stuffed Obamacare down the throats of the GOP and the country, Democrats are now paying the price.

I don’t agree with current Republican tactics. I thought the defunding demand impossible and, therefore, foolish. I thought that if, nonetheless, they insisted on making a stand, it should not be on shutting down the government, which voters oppose 5-to-1, but on the debt ceiling, which Americans favor 2-to-1 as a vehicle for restraining government.

Tactics are one thing, but substance is another. It’s the Democrats who have mocked the very notion of settled law. It’s the Democrats who voted down the reopening of substantial parts of the government. It’s the Democrats who gave life to a spontaneous, authentic, small-government opposition — aka the tea party — with their unilateral imposition of a transformational agenda during the brief interval when they held a monopoly of power.

That interval is over. The current unrest is the residue of that hubris.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

End GOP Obstruction!!!

The debt-ceiling crisis threatens not just the president's constitutional duty to make payments on the public debt but also the accompanying requirement that he spend money lawfully appropriated by Congress, either as part of a yearly budget or as part of statutes authorizing “entitlement” payments like Medicare or veterans' benefits.

Failing to do any of these things would be a default on the president's duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The president may not be able to obey all three sources of law; if so, Aaron argues, he should make the payments and ignore the debt ceiling.

“The debt ceiling is the fiscal equivalent of the human appendix — a law with no discoverable purpose,” he writes. “If Congress leaves the debt ceiling at a level inconsistent with duly enacted spending and tax laws, the president has no choice but to ignore it.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/if-congress-wont-raise-the-debt-ceiling-obama-will-be-forced-to-break-the-law/280176/

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh for heaven's sake, Charlie, quit trying to justify the unjustifiable.
Victim blaming is sooo gauche.

Abdu Omar 1 year, 10 months ago

"From Social Security to civil rights to Medicaid to Medicare, never in the modern history of the country has major social legislation been enacted on a straight party-line vote. Never. In every case, there was significant reaching across the aisle, enhancing the law’s legitimacy and endurance. Yet Obamacare — which revolutionizes one-sixth of the economy, regulates every aspect of medical practice and intimately affects just about every citizen — passed without a single GOP vote." So says Charlie.

What amendment to the ACA did the Repubs offer? I don't think they had a plan at all except to sabotage everything Obama accomplishes. I am not a raving fan of the President any more but I loathe to see the tea party take control of congress. In my view they are myopic in their views and will not see the forest for the trees. This is why they can shut down the government without compunction because they don't know the ramifications nor do they care to learn them.

jafs 1 year, 10 months ago

Since the department of HHS has the authority to administer the law, it has the rightful authority to choose when to begin enforcing parts of it.

There's nothing untoward about that at all.

The law was in fact passed, signed, and survived (largely intact) at the SC. I can't imagine a better example of "settled law".

Trying to attach defunding, delaying tactics of a settled law to a simple temporary budget is unheard of - I don't know that it's ever been done before.

I imagine there may be some desire to benefit politically, but I suspect the greater reason is that D feel that R tactics here are extortion, and they don't want to negotiate with extortionists.

The fact that no R voted for the bill isn't the D fault - they could have, and chose not to. They made obstruction of the president and the D their strategy, and stuck to it. Blaming D for that choice seems way off to me.

It is currently possible to buy insurance across state lines, and tort reform is unconvincing to me, and would generally result in patients being less able to hold doctors accountable, which I find undesirable.

As always, CK seems to operate in an Orwellian, up is down universe from my perspective.

anotherview 1 year, 10 months ago

"Who shut Johnny out of the parks"?

It's clear that it is the Speaker of the House. There are the votes to pass a clean budget without making changes to the ACA. The problem is the speaker will not it come to the floor for a vote.

jafs 1 year, 10 months ago

Why does he have that power, and can we change that?

Orwell 1 year, 10 months ago

He has that power because a majority in the House kowtow to the Tea Party extremists, the theocrats and the plutocrats. We can change it by electing reps more concerned with American jobs than with their own jobs.

Trumbull 1 year, 10 months ago

The Republicans should try amending the law or repeal the law if they don't. like it. This is the way things work. This is our constitution. Instead they threaten us all with a shutdown.

What they are doing is reckless. They are willing to throw the whole darn game and go home, just because they don't like one call.

Our country is never gonna move forward with these knuckleheads in office.

OlDan 1 year, 10 months ago

Good column Charles. Despite lies and propaganda from Obama, Democrats and the media, people are beginning to see that Democrats share at least equal blame for the government shut down. Obama and his administration refuse to negotiate and choose to not even consider proposals from the House to re-open important and popular government programs. This administration chooses instead to make this shut down as painful as possible for political advantage. According to this news piece, this administration has shut down parks that are not even funded by the federal government. Outrageous!

"We are all familiar with the barricades erected at the open-air WWII Memorial in Washington DC. Images of aged WWII veterans being prevented by armed NPS officials from entering the memorial were all across the media.

In the case of the WWII monument, it was soon reported that there was no reason to erect the barricades--wryly termed Barry-cades after the President's childhood name--because the memorial is open 24 hours a day even though it is only staffed with NPS personnel from 9:30AM to 11:30PM. A government shut down could not have affected the memorial regardless. But Obama went out of his way to prevent the old men from visiting the monument.

"Needlessly shutting down the WWII memorial wasn't the only unnecessary shut down Obama perpetrated. He also sent NPS personnel fanning out across the country to shut down dozens of parks that the federal government doesn't even fund."

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/03/Obama-Forcing-Shut-Down-of-Parks-the-Feds-Don-t-Even-Fund

deec 1 year, 10 months ago

By 44 percent to 35 percent, more say Republicans in Congress are to blame than Obama/Democrats for the shutdown in a CBS News poll conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday. A simultaneous Fox News poll of registered voters found 42 percent saying either “Republican leaders” or “Tea party Republicans, such as Ted Cruz,” are responsible while 32 percent blamed Obama or “Democratic leaders, such as Harry Reid.” See link above for source.

OlDan 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't have to look at the link. Those are indeed the current numbers thanks to the msm blitz that has once again influened low information citizens. Facts are beginning to seep out and I anticipate these numbers will change. TAke for instance this jewel from Harry Reid when asked about his refusal to consider funding for NIH.

Help kids with cancer? Reid asks: 'Why would we want to do that?' http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/02/why-would-want-to-do-that/

deec 1 year, 10 months ago

The Fox poll shows similar results as the CBS poll.

OlDan 1 year, 10 months ago

No one is disputing the current poll numbers. It's just that things like the Harry Reid fumble are not being published by the msm. As they begin to come out, people will begin to realize that the Ds are at least equally to blame, if not moreso. THEN we can look at the polls. I am betting they will change.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

The facts are as clear! The Republicans have opted to use a shutdown as a way of pressuring President Obama to give up or delay the Affordable Care Act.

Media coverage of the government shutdown and who is to blame should reflect these facts and inform the American people, but so far it has largely failed to do so.

The false equivalence and "he-said, she-said" coverage from major television networks and the dysfunctional DC press corps has dangerous implications for the proper functioning of our democracy. The facts are as clear! The Republicans have opted to use a shutdown as a way of pressuring President Obama to give up or delay the Affordable Care Act.

Media coverage of the government shutdown and who is to blame should reflect these facts and inform the American people, but so far it has largely failed to do so.

The false equivalence and "he-said, she-said" coverage from major television networks and the dysfunctional DC press corps has dangerous implications for the proper functioning of our democracy.

If voters who watch television news don't understand the fact that Republicans intentionally created the government shutdown and debt ceiling crises in an unprecedented attempt to extract extreme legislative concessions from Democrats, they won't be able to hold those responsible accountable at the ballot box. Is anyone paying attention?

Absolutely it is not the media’s job to cover for the Republicans. It’s time for the media to come clean on this and report the truth: Republicans are solely responsible for shutting down the government. Again Is anyone paying attention. The ALEC Right Wing Party is in charge of the GOP.

Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

15 bazillion lines to say "you brought it on yourselves". He must get paid by the word.

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