It’s time to let the nine Michigan Republicans in Congress know that we hold them personally responsible for the shutdown

Today I received an email from Lon Johnson, the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. In it, he shared the following fact. “Every single Michigan Republican member of Congress,” he said, “voted in favor of the government shutdown.” I suppose I knew that, but, as I tend to hold those members of Congress who identify as Tea Party Republicans primarily responsible for the shutdown, I guess I’d been willing to give the others a pass… Well, after nine days of living without a properly functioning government, I’m beginning to see it differently. I’m to the point now where I don’t so much care if a particular Republican member of the House was one of 40-some treasonous zealots who, under the guidance of a handful of American billionaires, like the Koch brothers, were originally responsible for making this happen. Enough time has passed where I think they’re all culpable – not just the Michele Bachmanns of the party. (Bachman, by the way, came out a few days ago and announced that the “end times” are upon us, which I guess explains the nihilism which informs her policy positions… I imagine it must be pretty difficult think about the fact that clinical trials have come to a standstill, for instance, when you know that our lord and savior is on his way to rapture you away from all of this, repaying you for all that you’ve done for him here on Earth, by keeping health care from the sick and poor, trying to stop committed gay couples from marrying, and the like.)

Given all of this, I’m of the opinion that we need to start putting pressure not just on our favorite local Congressman, the terrifyingly delusional Kerry Bentivolio, but on all those Republicans who serve alongside him and his fellow Tea Partiers, who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to stand up to the more radical individuals in their party and demand that they honor their oath of office, and respect the rule of law. (Just a quick reminder… The Republicans have brought our nation to its knees because they don’t like the Affordable Care Act – a piece of legislation that has been passed by the Congress, signed into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. What they’re doing is extortion, plain and simple. And, as much as they’d like to blame the President for the shutdown, the American people know better.)

So, starting today, I’m going to begin calling Michigan’s House Republicans, and letting them know that I expect them to help stop this unprecedented hijacking of our American democracy.

Here they are – Michigan’s nine Republican members of the House… The ones marked with red circles are those who self-identify as Tea Partiers, and, as such, are likely more ideologically aligned with the Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator from Texas who helped orchestrate the shutdown with the help of the shadowy cabal of wealthy old men I alluded to earlier. All of nine of these members of Congress, however, as we discussed previously, supported the shutdown.


If you’d like to join me in calling them, you’ll find their contact information by following these links: Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash, Dave Camp, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Mike Rogers, Candice Miller, Kerry Bentivolio.

Can I count on you to make at least one call?

If you’ve never called the office of a member of Congress, don’t be scared. It’s pretty straightforward. You call, you give them your name, you tell them why you’re calling, an intern logs your call on a tally sheet, and, at the end of the day, the results are presented to the elected official, who then has to make a choice as to how he or she will respond… In this case, of course, our hope would be to convince him or her to pick up the phone, call Boehner’s office and say, “John, this shit has to stop, right the fuck now.”

Here, in case you’re curious, is what I plan to say when I call. Feel free to use it, if you like.

Hello. My name is Mark Maynard, and I’d like to register my opinion with regard to the Republican shutdown of the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. I don’t know the Congressman’s role in making this happen, but, as he voted in support of the shutdown, I will be making a cash contribution to his opponent during the next Republican primary, and I will encourage my friends and family members to do likewise… That is, if he doesn’t move swiftly to bring this poorly-thought-out, and completely unprecedented gambit to a speedy conclusion. The families of our veterans are not being paid, young cancer patients are not being enrolled in clinical trials, our state is losing $18 million dollars a day, and our counter-terrorism analysts have been furloughed. This is untenable. And I am personally holding the Congressman responsible… End this now, before any more damage is done to our nation… Stop listening to Ted Cruz, and listen to your own constituents. Or find yourself out of a job.

Of course, they’ll take your complaint more seriously if you’re a constituent, but they’ll still hear you out if you’re not. The objective is just to keep their switchboards lit up, and to let them know that we hold them responsible. So just keep talking. Tell them that you’ll be speaking with your friends and family members in the Congressman’s district, and then actually do just that… This has gone on long enough, and we need to make these nine individuals aware of the fact that we’re watching them. They need to know that, even if this wasn’t their idea, we know how they voted, and we intend to vote accordingly.

The good news is, they’re already feeling the heat. The following clip, which mentions two of the Michigan Congressmen noted above, is from today’s Washington Post:

Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts.

Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.

But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default.

Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts — one in the moneyed Detroit suburbs and the others in North Carolina and Tennessee — where business leaders are backing primary campaigns against Republican congressmen who have alienated party leaders. The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right.

“It’s a new dynamic, and we don’t know how far it’s going to go,” said Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman who is close to the House leadership. “All the energy in the Republican Party the last few years has come from the tea party. The notion that there might be some energy from the radical center, the people whose positions in the conservative mainstream are more center-right but who are just furious about the dysfunctionality of government — that’s different.”

But any move to take out a tea-party-aligned congressman in a Republican primary would be challenging, especially here in Michigan’s 3rd District, where grass-roots conservatives hold considerable sway. In the 2012 presidential primary, former senator Rick Santorum beat the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in this culturally conservative district, even though Romney carried the state.

…“I don’t see him as a collaborator, and I think that’s a huge problem,” Goebel, a former chair of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, said. “People used to say, ‘I don’t like the Congress, but I like my congressman.’ I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”

There are similar sentiments 140 miles east in the tony Detroit suburbs of Oakland County, where businessman David Trott is waging a well-funded primary campaign to defeat Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R), a former high school teacher and reindeer rancher now dubbed by fellow Republicans the “accidental congressman.”

After longtime Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s reelection bid collapsed in 2012, Bentivolio was the only Republican on the ballot — and, in the GOP-leaning 11th District, he won.

Although Bentivolio aligns with tea party conservatives, he has not been as much of a thorn in the side of House leadership as Amash has; Boehner hosted a fundraiser for Bentivolio in the summer. But Bentivolio is struggling to prepare for reelection and has just $42,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign finance records. His spokesman did not respond to several requests for comment.

Trott, a longtime party donor and fixture, announced last week that he had raised $425,000 in the 26 days since launching his campaign…

While I doubt our calls would have much impact on either Bentivolio (because he knows his political career is almost over) or Amash (because Amway President Douglas L. DeVos is pulling the strings), I’ve got to think that that other seven folks identified above could be moved by a call in which a constituent says, “Look, I know Amash is more responsible for this than you are, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold you responsible for voting to support him in his effort to hold our nation hostage because he doesn’t like a particular law.”

So, how about making a call?

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  1. EOS
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    You can’t govern effectively by insulting 49% of your constituents. You can’t allow the executive branch to pick and choose only portions of the law to implement. You can’t lay the entire blame on the minority party.

    “after nine days of living without a properly functioning government” – Sorry, it’s been more than 50 years since we abandoned the Constitution.

  2. EOS
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Here’s some better talking points to use to contact the president, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.

    Dear Mr. President:

    As the temporary slowdown in government operations enters its second week, I write to explain why conservatives have insisted on making the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the prime source of contention. Speaking for our organization, I can tell you we’re in this fight because of the harm the law is inflicting on Americans across the country.

    We are fighting for people like Michael Cerpok, a leukemia patient in Arizona, who recently learned he will lose his current health insurance due to this misguided law. He notes that “my $4,500 out-of-pocket [expense] is going to turn into a minimum of $26,000 out-of-pocket to see the doctor that I’ve been seeing the last seven years,” and he worries that he and his wife might need to take second jobs to stay afloat.

    We are fighting for people like California resident Tom Waschura, who voted for you twice, yet was shocked by the higher premium bill he recently received in the mail. Tom’s insurance rates will go up by almost $10,000 for him and his family. He fears that these higher premiums will harm his family, and jobs in his area: “When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

    We are fighting for people like Rod Coons and Florence Peace, a retired Indiana couple satisfied with their current coverage. “I’d prefer to stay with our current plan because it meets our needs,” says Rod. But their plan isn’t government-approved under Obamacare’s new rules, so Rod and Florence are losing their health insurance plan at the end of this year.

    You have claimed that Obamacare has nothing to do with the budget. But over the next decade, this widely unpopular program will add nearly $1.8 trillion in new federal spending—and will cost taxpayers trillions more beyond that, making it nearly impossible to balance the federal budget. What’s more, for millions of struggling Americans, the law will crush their family budgets due to fewer work hours, lost jobs, and higher premiums. With the economy still mired in a scattered and sluggish recovery, these people deserve relief from Obamacare—and they deserve it now.

    Your Administration has already granted numerous waivers and exemptions during the three years since the law was passed. Millions of union members received temporary waivers from the law’s costly benefit requirements. Big businesses have received a one-year delay from the onerous employer mandate—a delay your Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, struggled to defend in an interview earlier this week. And Members of Congress have obtained special treatment for themselves and their staffs—illegally—that allows them to continue to receive taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies.

    At a time when so many Americans are suffering because of the rollout of this new law, I remain puzzled by your failure to acknowledge the faults caused by this unfair, unworkable, and unpopular measure. We believe the law should be fully repealed, but at minimum, both sides should agree not to fund the law for one year—a “time-out” that would halt the law’s most harmful effects before they start.

    Even though Democrats have thus far refused to negotiate on anything related to the current government slowdown, millions of citizens need relief from this law. I encourage you and your Administration to work with Congress on ways to stop Obamacare from harming the American people and the American economy.

    All the best,

  3. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    As someone who didn’t support the Iraq war, I feel your pain, EOS. The democratic process doesn’t always yield legislation that each and every one of us like. It sucks. But that’s what it means to live under a representative democracy. We pass laws and we live by them. This is a nation of laws. You profess to love the Constitution. You might want to read it. The Affordable Care Act is law. These nine Republicans vowed to uphold the laws of the United States when they took office. What aren’t you understanding?

  4. EOS
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    “We pass laws and we live by them.”

    These 9 Republicans are attempting to do exactly that – uphold the Constitution. The legislation that was passed is not being implemented in its entirety. The executive branch doesn’t have the power to pick and choose what parts of each law will actually be enacted. There is no enumerated authority in the Constitution for the executive branch to alter the laws passed by Congress. The Republicans rightly voted against this harmful law, and as representatives of their constituents, are using the delegated powers that Congress wields to minimize the harmful effects of this train wreck. Congress holds the purse strings of the Federal budget and this is an important check and balance of an administration gone awry.

  5. EOS
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    BTW, not a democracy – a constitutional republic. Huge difference.

  6. Megan
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Hey EOS,

    Romney ran on a campaign of repealing the ACA and lost. The Senate lost seats and the House lost seats. So this conservative thought of “the majority of the country hates Obamacare” is bullshit. If that were true, the Republicans would have won in the polls and they lost. Big. And it’s been upheld, so the Republican analysts and strategists that are all over Fox calling it unconstitutional need to go back to school, because the SC said it was fine. You lost. You lost in the legislation. You lost in the elections. You lost against the SC. GET OVER IT and stop holding the country hostage!

    Mark – you can count on a couple of phone calls from me.

  7. Megan
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Ok, i’ve called these three. I have to do some actual work. Might get back to the rest.

    Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash,

  8. Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    EOS does actually have a point about the executive branch picking and choosing parts of the law to implement.

    As part of the compromise that was the Affordable Care Act, an individual mandate and an employer mandate were to take effect simultaneously. However, the executive branch decided to ignore the law as it was written and passed by Congress and signed by that very executive, and delay the implementation of the employer mandate by one year.

    It may be that this delay is necessary, it may be that it’s good, it may be that it’s in the best interests of the country, but none of that matters. The executive branch does not have the authority to simply rewrite laws.

  9. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Why do we even talk with you, EOS? The reason that “Obamacare” was rolled out over three years is because that was the compromise agreed to between the administration and Congress. The fact that you now use that fact as evidence that the law is somehow not legitimate is absolutely ridiculous. More ridiculous, however, is you comment about how the Executive does not “have the power to pick and choose”, which is exactly what Republicans in Congress are attempting to do at this very moment. They’re essentially telling the American people that, on a piecemeal basis, they’ll fund the parts of government that they agree with. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  10. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The delays came at the request of Republicans. Read the news and you’ll see that they’re requesting another delay now. “Give us another year,” they say. If you really want us to believe that the Republicans would have been happier with this legislation if it were rolled out in its entirety a year earlier, you’re being completely disingenuous.

  11. Eel
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    See also:

    “Drunk Dial Congress”

  12. Aaron
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Not to mention the individual mandate penalty starts at only $95 a year and gradually works its way up to the full amount. It’s not like its 100% implemented the first year already.

  13. Thom Elliott
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Not a democracy, or a constitutional republic, we are a totalitarian kleptocracy owned by 500 plutocratic “people”, racing toward the extinction of all biological life through our consumtion of ever so abundant long chain hydrocarbons. Huge difference.

  14. EOS
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Thanks cmadler,

    You explained it much better than I could.

  15. Thom Elliott
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I love the letter from the Heritage Foundation condemning Obamacare, seeing as they were essential to its creation. For a far right piece of legislation the far right sure is in a rankor over it, its almost as if *gasp* they were in horrendous badfaith, and were allowing the cascading systems failures of partial shutdown of govt to persist …over any pretext whatsoever!

  16. Thom Elliott
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Does the executive branch have the authority to torture terrorist suspects detained indefinately without trial in former Soviet block states? How about having the authority to monitor the electronic communications of as much of the earth as we please? How about the authority to wage endless drone warfare where ever we want, including on the people of the US? You people are quibbleing.

  17. Demetrius
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    What many seem to be forgetting in the fight over whether there should be a “compromise” over “Obamacare” is this: The Affordable Care Act WAS the compromise.

    Instead of getting a plan that would actually have covered more people, better, while saving more money in the long run — such a single-payer, or even “Medicare for all” — we instead ended up with a state-by-state patchwork version of a plan that was originally concocted by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundations (fer’ chrissakes!).

    Although there are some real benefits in the plan that will likely help many poor- and lower-income people, and especially those with pre-existing conditions — it is also likely true that the plan will end up funneling as man additional taxpayer dollars into insurance-company coffers as direct patient care.

    Many Democrats, including President Obama it seems, pushed this plan in the hopes that this “compromise” would gain at least some Republican support.

    Well, at least now we can all see how well that turned out …

  18. Demetrius
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Perhaps this should be the new rallying cry among those who are fighting to protect the ACA:

    “Obamacare IS the Compromise!”

  19. double anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    The progressive Dems should chime in and demand single payer. I’d love the see this backfire on the Tea Party and result in something even more “socialist”.

  20. Mr. Y
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What about Dingell? What’s he doing to bring this to and end? I know he’s not the problem but he must have thoughts, given his experience, as to how we might break this ideological log jam.

  21. Meta
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Television ads are running now saying the same thing. Here’s one running in Tim Walberg’s district?

  22. Jennifer
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Talking points from the Heritage Foundation…. yep… you just made me spray RedBull out my nose. Thanks EOS, I needed a laugh today.

  23. anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    The same Heritage Foundation that pretty much wrote the Affordable Care Act before turning against it right?

  24. anonymous
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Thankfully, the rest of the nation doesn’t see it like you, EOS.

    “Only 24 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the GOP and just 21 percent approve of the Tea Party; both numbers are record lows for the poll. Meanwhile, President Obama’s approval rating is actually two points higher than it was before the shutdown, up to 47 percent from 45 percent last month.”


  25. Mr. X
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Another online resource to share with your friends.

  26. Posted October 11, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Mark, here’s the real shit sandwich. Tim Walberg, “Tea Party Tim”, former Bible Salesman, student at Moody Bible College, graduate of Fort Wayne Bible College, enabler of Child Abuse by a staffer, served for 16 years in the Michigan State House (they meet 100 days per year), is receiving a pension of over $60,000 per year (with a $2000.00 a year increase), and full paid medical insurance for he and his wife, courtesy of the taxpayers of the state of Michigan. This dirtbag votes against every social program to benefit the poor. He voted for every post office naming except one, Rachel Carson, who wrote “Silent Spring”. He is the worst kind of hypocrite and while he professes to be a Christian, I’m sure that when he hits the pearly gates, some poor folks will be standing next to St. Peter for his accountability.

  27. dot dot dash
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the prodding. I made two calls to Congressmen in areas where I have friends and family. It felt good to vent. I relied heavily on the word “shameful”. In both instances they said, “The Congressman is working on a bipartisan solution,” to which I responded, “The Affordable Care Act WAS the bipartisan solution. I will be encouraging all of my friends and family not only to vote against the Congressman, but to fund his primary opponents if this is not promptly resolved.” I think they got the point.

  28. Maria Huffman
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The Heritage Foundation, EOS? You’re a lobbyist? Who knew?

  29. Meta
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The Republican party is headed for the ash bin of history.

    From the New Republic:

    I once wrote about lobbying, and this week I called some Republicans I used to talk to (and some that they recommended I talk to) about the effect the shutdown is having on the Republican Party in Washington. The response I got was fear of Republican decline and loathing of the Tea Party: One lobbyist and former Hill staffer lamented the “fall of the national party,” another the rise of “suburban revolutionaries,” and another of “people alienated from business, from everything.” There is a growing fear among Washington Republicans that the party, which has lost two national elections in a row, is headed for history’s dustbin. And I believe that they are right to worry.

    The battle over the shutdown has highlighted the cracks and fissures within the party. The party’s leadership has begun to lose control of its members in Congress. The party’s base has become increasingly shrill and is almost as dissatisfied with the Republican leadership in Washington as it is with President Obama. New conservative groups have echoed, and taken advantage of, this sentiment by targeting Republicans identified with the leadership for defeat. And a growing group of Republican politicians, who owe their election to these groups, has carried the battle into the halls of Congress. That is spelling doom for the Republican coalition that has kept the party afloat for the last two decades.

    Read more:

  30. Bernie Sanders
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    On the 12th day of a government shutdown, Senate Republicans on Saturday made the crisis worse by blocking a measure to raise the debt limit so the country can pay its bills. Within days, the Treasury Department expects the government will run out of borrowing authority and default. One of the immediate impacts could be a significant increase in interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other debts owed by ordinary Americans. Yesterday, the Republicans were demanding that in order to reopen the government and pay our debts the Affordable Care Act had to be repealed. Today, they are demanding concessions on Social Security, Medicare and other programs. The leader of this gambit is House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, the 2012 candidate for vice president who ran on a ticket that lost by 5 million votes. “It is imperative that Republicans stop holding the American people hostage and let us reopen the government and pay our bills. Frankly, given the enormous problems facing this country, it is beyond belief that we have wasted weeks debating whether, for the first time in our history, the largest economy in the world should default and plunge the world into a severe financial crisis,” Bernie said.

  31. Demetrius
    Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope that President Obama, and especially Harry Reid, hold firm against threats to provoke a debt default/financial crisis if the insane demands of a small small political minority — representing the interests of the 1% — aren’t met.

    At this point, giving even an inch will represent a fundamental surrender, and will forever alter the political balance of power in ways we will regret for years to come.

  32. Bob Reich by proxy
    Posted October 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Now is the time to lance the boil of Republican extremism once and for all. Since Obama became president, the extremists who have taken over the Republican Party have escalated their demands every time he’s caved (when he extended the Bush tax cuts through the end of 2012, offered spending cuts and then a Super Committee and sequester to get the debt ceiling lifted in 2011, permanently extended the Bush tax cuts for incomes up to $400,000 to avoid the fiscal cliff of 2012, offered a “chained CPI” and Medicare cuts in 2013). This time, though, Obama didn’t cave — at least, not yet. And now, with the government shuttered and the nation on the verge of defaulting on its debts, public opinion has turned sharply against the Republican Party. And the GOP’s corporate and Wall Street backers are threatening to defund it.

    Suddenly the Republicans are acting like the school-yard bully who terrorized the playground but finally got punched in the face. They’re in shock. They’re humiliated. They’re trying to come up with ways of saving face. With bloodied noses, House Republicans are running home, abruptly turning negotiations over to their Senate colleagues. Their demand to repeal or delay the Affordable Care Act has vanished. Now, it seems, negotiations over the federal budget deficit are about to begin once again. But keeping the government running and paying the nation’s bills should never have been bargaining chits in the first place, and the President and Democrats shouldn’t begin to negotiate until they’re taken off the table. The question is how thoroughly President Obama has learned that extortionist demands escalate if you give in to them.

  33. Meta
    Posted October 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    From Matt Taibbi:

    Here’s the problem with this entire situation. Every minute that Cruz presses forward sinks the Republicans into a deeper political hole, and the Democrats know this. Despite the seemingly impenetrable advantage the Republicans have gained through gerrymandering over the years (retaining their House majority in 2012 despite a two million-plus popular vote deficit), the party is now in serious danger of losing the House in 2014. Moreover, the shutdown debate has caused a massive schism within the Republican ranks, one symbolized by the open verbal combat that reportedly broke out between Cruz and other, less lunatic GOP Senators last week when the “reality caucus” discovered that Cruz had no exit strategy for this blow-it-all-to-hell stunt he’s pulling.

    That schism is also setting the party up for almost certain failure in the 2016 presidential race. Cruz’s gambit – it sounds like a chess opening, doesn’t it? Only one that begins with white snapping its king in half and throwing the pieces across the room – is galvanizing an unstoppable primary-season demographic that will trample anyone who tries to circumvent it on the way to the nomination.

    One thing that gives solace is that Cruz himself, if he plans on being that nominee, must have some kind of plan here. If he pushes this too far, and we actually default, and millions of jobs are lost as most economists predict, he must know he’ll have a hell of a time doing a whistlestop tour through the post-nuclear landscape he’s going to leave behind in Middle America.

    So one would think he’s playing some kind of game, and that his real exit strategy is to be suddenly and ruthlessly defeated at the last minute by other mainstream Republican Quislings. Such a move would be at least half-smart. It would make him a supreme martyr within the party, and formalize his status as the de facto leader of this new Tea Party/Third Party movement that is devouring the old GOP like Streptococcus pyogenes.

    On the other hand, if Cruz really is as dumb as he seems to be, and thinks that delivering on his crazy promise to bring the whole grid down is actually in America’s best interests, then we’re about to witness a radical reshaping of the political landscape. Because if we default and it causes anything like the worldwide financial catastrophe many serious economists expect, the Cruz demographic will be routed and the Republican Party will be forced to rebuild from scratch.

    The modern Democrats may be morally suspect cynics who have failed the country on issue after issue, from the NSA to torture abroad to their refusal to fight corruption in the financial markets. But politically, they are not stupid. They surely see that there is no immediate political downside to letting Cruz play this out. Polls show the Republican Party approval rating has already dropped ten points, from 38 percent to an all-time low of 28 percent, and will only go lower from here unless disaster is avoided.

    But the Democrats have to be big enough to resist the temptation to let the Republicans destroy themselves. They should be bringing every conceivable kind of pressure to save Cruz from himself and educate the public about the dramatic consequences of a default.

    The 2008 crash was triggered by the failure of one investment bank, Lehman Brothers, and when that bank collapsed, the world discovered that it was now so interconnected financially that one significant and unexpected failure could start a nuclear chain-reaction of losses. The Lehman impact stunned everyone. The average American family lost 18 percent of its wealth within months. The stock market lost half its value. The repo market collapsed, freezing economic activity and leading to massive declines in asset prices. Unemployment soared past 10 percent almost instantly.

    And that was just one bank failure. Can one imagine the consequences of the failure of the United States? The $12 trillion in outstanding government debt is 23 times bigger than the $517 billion Lehman owed when it went under in September 2008. In every way that Lehman’s failure played havoc with the economy, the failure of U.S. debt would repeat the disaster, only it would do it on an almost inconceivably huger scale.

    The entire world financial system revolves around the notion that the U.S. will never default, because under normal, rational circumstances, it can’t. (It can always print enough money to meet its obligations, as even Alan Greenspan conceded two years ago.) Before this latest political madness, no one could ever have conceived of a sovereign state intentionally defaulting. But we’re, like, a week away from this happening, and where’s the emergency mobilization?

    I’m not saying that this is the case, but one wonders whether the Democrats have made a miscalculation here, based upon their own narrow, transactional, materialistic view of politics. The Democrats may be sitting back just a little bit, content to let this felicitous political situation develop just a little longer, perhaps (and I have no proof of this) convinced that the other party will come to its senses and stand down at the last minute.

    But Cruz and his people are something we never see in Washington – believers. His caucus is not doing this for Redskins tickets and PAC money. They’re going for the Thelma and Louise ending. One last tender moment, holding hands and all. I have no idea what the Democrats can do to stop them, but we better hope they’re trying everything, and not seeing a huge future political win as their ace card.

    Read more:

  34. Meta
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    All Republicans are getting hit hard. It’s not just Bachmann and Cruz. It’s all of them. Here’s the most recent polling data.

    A staggering 74 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way that congressional Republicans are handling Washington’s budget crisis, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday.

    The poll finds that popular perception of the GOP has been declining since the government shut down on October 1. Two weeks ago, 63 percent disapproved of the Republicans’ handling of the budget dispute; that number rose to 70 percent last week, and 74 percent today.

    By contrast, just 53 percent disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the crisis — essentially unchanged from before the government shutdown — and 61 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats on the issue, up from 56 percent two weeks ago.

    Disapproval of the GOP strategy cuts across demographic groups, but Republicans should be especially troubled by their performance among women, who disapprove of their handling of the budget dispute by an overwhelming 77 to 17 percent margin.

    Even among Republicans, 49 percent disapprove of their own party’s actions.

    Read more:

  35. Meta
    Posted October 21, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Robert Reich sent the following out this morning about how the Republican party needs to stand up to the Tea Party.

    Appearing this morning on CNN and ABC, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blamed fellow Republicans for dooming the Tea Party’s effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. “I think it was unfortunate that you saw multiple members of the Senate Republicans going on television attacking House conservatives, attacking the effort to defund Obamacare, saying it cannot win, it’s a fool’s errand, we will lose, this must fail,” Cruz said. “That is a recipe for losing the fight, and it’s a shame.”

    The fact that Cruz — a freshman senator with no legislative or other accomplishments — was featured on CNN and ABC this morning is itself evidence that he got what he wanted from the weeks of government shutdown and potential default. He’s become the head of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party. Which means that unless the rest of the GOP rallies against and subdues that faction, Cruz could easily be the Republican’s presidential nominee in 2016. Some think this would be enormously helpful to HRC or whomever the Democrats nominate. Perhaps. But even a relatively low probability of a President Cruz is frightening.

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