With the U.S. government shutdown approaching its third week, the risk of default climbs and polls show most Americans blame the Tea Party. Matthew N. Donovan comments.
WHAT'S OCCURRING in Washington D.C. is simultaneously fascinating, compelling and horrifying.
The Republican Party (GOP) has been infiltrated by 40 to 50 people who can only be called far right-wing anarchists — the Tea Party faction.
Most of them have been elected in the last couple of political cycles.
They appear, in the most part, to possess no discernible skills or laudable attributes.
However, what they do possess is strong backing. The powerful Koch Brothers, whose combined fortune is said to be $68 billion.
They donate vast, but unknown sums, to increasingly more conservative candidates who favour "small government" and "individual responsibility". They are corrosive influence in Washington and their fingerprints are everywhere on Capitol Hill.
The reason we know little about the true extent of their donations is due to the famous Supreme Court case United Citizens vs. FEC. The result of this case was that Political Action Committees (PACs or Super PACs) could be formed and used to spend unlimited sums of money on political campaigns, as long as they were arm's length from political parties. Among some of the PACs the Koch Brothers are believed to donate to are FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are believed to be funneled through these funds.
It is estimated that $4 billion was spent by all Super PACs in the 2012 Presidential election.
It should not surprise anyone to find out the Tea Party are also backed by the health insurance lobby.
These Tea Party members are dangerous, radical, ideologues in a political structure that tends toward moderateness on either side of the aisle. They don't believe in government. They believe it's their way or no way. No matter what the consequences.
The moderates in the GOP and House Speaker Boehner have had a hard time wrangling and overpowering their latest plan: to shut down the government to defund, repeal and replace what opponents call "Obamacare" — his landmark health reforms.
Speaker Boehner's grip on his position has been significantly diminished as a result of this turmoil. I don't expect him to hold against the backlash that's building. Recent polls are spooking GOP leaders.
Very few agree with their approach. We head toward the end of the second week of the shutdown. The shutdown they instigated by insisting President Barack Obama take an axe to his major healthcare reform by way of a threat to bring down the government. They knew perfectly well that the President would not accept any change to his trademark law.
The Tea Party have been elected in heavily conservative gerrymandered districts and have very little chance of being defeated without strong and concerted backing for their opponents.
Most Republicans members and supporters are distressed by their influence on their party. However, the Tea Party faction are holding strong as their support base remains steadfast, against the tide of popular opinion.
This government shutdown is their doing and that is abundantly clear. They couldn't hide their excitement when the plan became a reality and many have been campaigning on it for years.
They want "Obamacare" wiped out, despite it having vast support among the uninsured, as well as being passed by Congress and being upheld by the Supreme Court.
The GOP controlled House wouldn't pass the needed budget, already passed by the Democratic Party controlled Senate, without a raft of nasty provisions they added at the last minute. They sought to make it look like the President wouldn't "negotiate" and it's his fault. Polls indicate this hasn't stuck.
It would be sometime akin to negotiating with terrorists, which most governments have a policy of not doing. It would set up a disastrous precedent.
They evidently thought Obama and the Democratic Party would acquiesce. It was blackmail, plain and simple — but it didn't work.
Obama stood firm in his demands the House Speaker bring the Senate passed bill to the House floor and allow them to vote to reopen the government.
The House Speaker blinked first and demands on healthcare reform changes have all but disappeared. He appears increasingly willing to defy the radicals in his conference, despite the fact it will probably cost him his speakership. The polls have rattled him, the Party's backers and big business.
Once this unnecessary, concocted, crisis is brought to an end, there is still the small matter of making sure the United States doesn't default on its debt obligations; according to experts the implications of not lifting the debt ceiling will be more harmful than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
And you thought the last three years in Australian politics had been divisive?
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