So let’s start then, as Senator Bernie Sanders did on Friday, and say that a debate on healthcare is pressing and vital, though add this: it is an argument we should not be having in 2013. The United States is the only industrialised nation that does not guarantee health care to its citizens; and with 48 million people without healthcare, that fact should be weighing on the debate rather heavily. However, that does not stop House Republicans from issuing a pathetic threat for a total government shut down should the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, pass without a one year delay. This would be the first government shutdown since the shutdown in 1995-1996, in which all government employees and programs went without pay and funding for 21 days.
To further enforce their seriousness for ensuring the shutdown and an ultimately futile attempt to avoid a political fallout, Republicans vow to pass a bill that allow the U.S. military to continue to receive pay and funding. While perhaps enough for the converted, this is nothing but rote for the Right who might all share a certain nostalgia for that dear old British Imperialism. In a nation that spent over a trillion dollars on “defense” alone last year, the idea that universal healthcare is too pricey is laughable and only acceptable because that money isn’t being spent on schools as well.
Should the shutdown take effect, we can count on about 40 percent of the nation’s 2 million federal workers to be furloughed. All national parks and federal wildlife refuges will be closed for the duration of the shutdown, and while Republicans may vow to pass a bill that will continue the pay of military servicemen, in the process of that bill’s passing there is no guarantee is retroactive pay. A list of further deficiencies caused by a government shutdown can be found HERE.
In an open letter penned by Sanders which you can read HERE, he stated that “[House Republicans] behavior is morally bankrupt” and went on to criticize President Obama for allowing the whiny children on the floor to continue taking the spotlight.
A partial transcript of Sanders speech: “But one thing is certain – you do not hold the American people hostage by threatening to shut down the government or for the first time in the history of our country not paying our bills and bringing this country and perhaps the entire world into a major financial crisis, there was an election a year ago on this very issue — one of the major issues in the campaign — and the Republican candidate said, ‘Let’s defund Obamacare.’ He lost the election! Republicans lost seats in the Senate, they lost seats in the House! And that’s what democracy is about. What democracy is not about is a handful of members of the House of Representatives, extreme right-wing Republicans, saying, ‘If we do not get our way, we are prepared to punish tens of millions of Americans. Yeah, we lost the election. Yeah, we lost seats in the House and Senate. But we are prepared to bring this government down. We are prepared to cause, perhaps, a major global financial crisis unless we get our way!’”
Perhaps because their pay packets would be guaranteed anyway, they are willing to sacrifice so much on anyone – or perhaps everyone – else’s behalf. I have said and written it before, and will continue to do so to the point of annoyance; no responsible person can vote Republican.