The Republican members of the U.S. Congress, including the Mississippi coalition, are trying to blame the government shutdown on anyone but themselves. The talking points have become as annoying as Mississippi mosquitoes: "Obamacare is train wreck!" "Democrats refuse to negotiate!"
Let's put aside that funding for Affordable Care Act is part of the mandatory portion of the budget. The part Congress is fighting about now is the discretionary portion, thus the "partial" shutdown. Let's not consider that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the overwhelming majority of the act—everything except the part mandating states expand their Medicaid programs.
We don't have to talk about how the ACA is derived from a conservative Heritage Foundation plan or that it's essentially what then-Gov. Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts.
And the American people—the ones who re-elected Barack Obama by an overwhelming majority less than a year ago? The same American people priced out of adequate health care? The 800,000 sitting idle, the toddlers with no day care? We don't have to bring them into the picture, either.
No, we don't need to talk about that. But here's what we should talk about: The Republican Party has been planning this tactic—holding the budget and, possibly, the debt ceiling, hostage—for months. At least, the far-right-wing purists of the party—and their big buckets of money—have done so, and The New York Times broke that story in its Sunday edition:
"To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010—waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known."
Two examples: Freedom Works, a conservative advocacy group published a memo in February that outlines its "Blueprint for Defunding Obamacare." The Tea Party Patriots published its "Defunding Obamacare Toolkit" in September, complete with talking points just in case they get the blame.
For Tea Party-backed Republican hardliners, no tactic is too harsh. They will sacrifice the health and treasure of the American people, and the economic stability of the nation. Moderate estimates of the shutdown's cost are $300 million a day; one week costs the nation $2.1 billion.
This isn't about what's good for the American people. It never was. This is about ideological purity, and it has to stop. Call your Republican congressman and tell him.
Sen. Thad Cochran: 202-224-5054; 601-965-4459.
Sen. Roger Wicker: 202-224-6253; 601-965-4644.
Rep. Alan Nunnelee: 202-225-4306; 662-841-8845.
Rep. Steven Palazzo: 202-225-5772; 228-864-7670.
Rep. Gregg Harper: 202-225-5031; 601- 823-3400.