Republicans: Sold Your Souls to the Teabagging Devils

Congressional tea party Congressmen and women are becoming the bane of Boehner . . . they’re even drawing criticism from the likes of uber-conservatives Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer, who called Michele Bachmann “unbelievably irresponsible” for her refusal (shared by some 60 Republican Congressmen and women) to vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances.  Even John McCain, hardly a moderate, seems to have lost patience with the House Republicans, saying that they’re making “foolish demands” that will never pass the Senate. Democrat Chuck Schumer summed it up, saying, “Even if the Speaker [Boehner] is able to beg, borrow and steal his way to 217 Republican votes, the bill [containing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution] remains a nonstarter in the Senate and the president will never sign it . . . The Speaker is wasting precious time. Every day he spends twisting arms in his caucus we careen closer to catastrophic default.”  The teabaggers want a Balanced Budget Amendment – a Constitutional Amendment – that will be tied to any increase in the debt ceiling.  It’s nothing more than ideological pig ignorance out of the gang of teabaggers in Congress – it’ll die in the Senate and President Obama will never sign it.

It’s clear:  The GOP has completely lost its middle, its moral center, its rational thought processes. In short, it’s completely lost its collective mind. Anyone who dares to voice a position that smacks of sanity is deemed a RINO (“Republican In Name Only”). Any GOP presidential candidate who isn’t signing pledges against abortion and gay marriage and Muslims and taxes and Medicare-killing budgets and a host of other socially unacceptable agendas is considered unfit to be in the Party. The GOP tent has gotten smaller and smaller – and those inside it are seeing a 21st Century version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As noted by RealClearPolitics, “. . . [D]ysfunctional is the too-polite term for the House of Representatives, specifically its dominant tea party Republicans, who can be described in far less dainty psychological terms. Even the most extreme Republican partisans in the Senate seem to realize that their House colleagues, seized by some combination of ideology, madness and pig ignorance, are propelling the country and the world toward economic chaos.”  Even ultra-conservative senators like Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn and Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss – members of the Gang of Six who, though hostile to President Obama and the Dems, aren’t entirely insane – are trying to compromise on a deal, and believe that there’s no choice but to raise the debt ceiling.

We thought Reagan was a hot mess, with his Christian Right/Moral Majority followers – well, Reagan might have been a right-wing zealot, but he did something the current crop of teabagging Republicans would never do: Compromise with the Democrats to make deals.  He may have been the Pied Piper for the far right, and he may never have met a tax hike he liked, but he wasn’t completely radical – he was a politician. Of course, Reagan was spared the trauma of being formally introduced to the Tea Party movement – and he was also spared the trauma of having to appease his base of “Christians” who violently and vehemently opposed our country’s first Black president. So he has that going for him . . . but I still think he’s flipping in his grave to see what the Republican Party looks like today. Hell, Dwight Eisenhower would have liked to see a 91% tax rate for the uber-rich, and would have definitely considered the teabaggers stupid: “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt [you possibly know his background], a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”  Ironic, isn’t it, that conservatives who have served as the right’s icons can now be invoked to demonstrate to the right-wingnuts how utterly stupid, naive and ideologically insane they are?

For Republicans to invoke Reagan on this debt ceiling fiasco is barking up the wrong tree. In fact, Reagan, while president, letter to Congress saying, in part: “The full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. […] The risks, the cost, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.” Noting that Congress routinely waits until the 11th hour to act, Reagan slammed “this brinksmanship” because, he said, “it threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits” and threatened to raise interest rates and explode the deficit.

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Look, the Republicans never gave a fig about the deficit until President Obama was elected (or, to be fair, until they had to serve under any Democratic president). The new and removed-from-reality base of the Republican Party has invented all sorts of things it claims to have always stood for, the deficit being one of them. But memories are short, aren’t they? Republicans raised the friggin’ debt ceiling 18 times under Reagan with nary a whimper.  They raised it five tearless times under George W. Now we hear nothing but whimpers and sobs from the right side of the aisle, as the GOP bemoans the good old days they believe they were once a part of, when the Republicans were supposedly fiscal conservatives and traveled the “pay as you go” high road. Pssh, they’ve never paid as they went a day in their lives. Reagan, with his “supply side economics” (or, “voodoo economics,” as George Bush Sr. called it) and “trickle down” fiction, exploded the deficit and drove the country into a recession.  Reagan spent like a drunken sailor, more than any other president in history; our country was rescued under the presidency of Bill Clinton. George W. grabbed the debt baton and staggered around with his tax-cutting for the rich and deregulation and every other tricky gambit to benefit his cronies until the crash of the economy was complete in 2008 – just in time for President Obama to become our first Black president and see the blame for two wars and trillions of dollars in debt created by his Republican predecessors laid at his feet.

And then the fun began – enter stage left, The Tea Party.

It was at this point – when the teabaggers started galloping around the country in their shiny tour bus, stopping at various points across the country so largely middle-aged white people could gulp down the swill they were dishing out – that the Republicans sold their souls to the devil in exchange for a few seats in the mid-terms. We remember the teabaggers’ racist signs, their polarizing, irrational hatred, their inconsistency, their hypocrisy, their determined ignorance. We remember their confusion as to what, exactly, they were protesting. We remember they thought President Obama raised taxes – even though he’s the biggest tax-cutting president in decades. We remember hearing them insist that the government keep the hands off their Medicare. Thankfully, as a movement, their road trips are in our rearview mirrors – currently, there’s not much there, there. But before they became a movement that turned off everyone in the country except each other, the teabaggers succeeded in helping elect the 87 lunatics – the freshmen Republicans in the House – who in unison stall anything that comes their way. Thanks to the teabaggers, the country has been burdened with the likes of Raul Labrador, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio. We can thank the teabaggers for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Florida’s Rick Scott, Ohio’s John Kasich. Buyer’s remorse doesn’t even begin to cover it – but the Republicans are bleeding out right now, and the teabaggers, far from applying compresses to stop the gusher, are slicing GOP veins . . . and slitting the throats of Americans.

So there’s the right-wing middle: It’s the far right. The Republicans have become so far right as a party, and so removed from mainstream America, that polls are reflecting that even Republican voters are shying away – 66% of the U.S. wants a compromise on raising the debt ceiling – and it’s clear that, despite Republican efforts, the blame if the U.S. defaults will be laid at the feet of Congressional Republicans.

Democrats believe in compromise – it’s our brand. Republicans don’t share that view. A Gallup poll last November indicates that 59% of Democrats believe in compromising to get things done, compared with 41% of Republicans who think leaders should hold the line and not cave.  As Democratic Representative Jim Moran noted, “. . . a majority of the House Republicans ran on the basis that government doesn’t work. And now that they’re elected they’re determined to prove it.” The tea party Congressmen and women have been breeding a little too close to the gene pool, demonstrating ignorance combined with ideological belief systems that work against Americans. The GOP has lost any semblance of moderate, and, with it, any semblance of sanity. Republicans can invoke Reagan all day long, but it’s like the sign at anti-gay rallies: “Quit using me to justify your hatred – God.” In this case, it’s, “Quit using me to justify your heinous anti-American agendas – Reagan.”

President Reagan, folks, let me formally introduce you to the new brand of the Republican Party, here to stay, that sports the motto, “My way, or my other way.”