Our guide to the biggest political flops of the week:
The Shutdown (duh)
As the government shutdown enters its second week and with the next debt ceiling showdown looming, it’s easy to see why a new poll is out showing Americans’ concerns with dysfunction in Washington are at a 74 year high. Congress has failed to pass a full budget since 2009. Fallout from the situation has been seen all over the country (and globe) as the Pentagon stopped issuing compensation to the families of fallen soldiers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is having trouble dealing with a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people in 18 states (they recalled 30 furloughed workers to help with the crisis) and the world financial markets are starting to worry about the real threat of a new recession. The list of ways this is impacting the country could go on and on.
The Hyperbole Does Need to Stop
Whenever a crisis like the current one happens -- and it is very serious -- we hear how this is the worst things have ever been. Thomas Friedman said this will lead to the end of American democracy as we know it. Others lament the role the minority is playing in “hijacking the system.” The United States will not cease to exist. We’ve been here before and not just in 1995. Though people seemed to think the partisanship situation during President Clinton’s time was the worst ever, too. He was accused of murder and drug trafficking and was impeached. Oh, the Civil War was a pretty hard time for the country, too. Yes, Congress needs to get to work and the President needs to work with them but this is not going to lead to the end to life as we know it.
President Clinton used to say there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what’s right with America. It is said that faith is the belief in something without any real proof. Here’s to hoping the grownups come back to the room and work this out.
Washington, DC Isn’t Broken; the Country Is
Washigton, DC has no voting representative in Congress. Members are not pandering to the residents of the city or even each other but to a handful of people back in their districts who agree with them (and each other). The process of gerrymandering has created a situation of hyper-partisan districts and left Members more concerned about being primaried than general elections. The districts get more extreme and so does Congress. Washington, DC has nothing to do with how states set up their Congressional Districts. Members don’t have a real incentive to talk to the other side. This has been a problem for years but it has gotten increasingly worse.
Obamacare Will Not Mean the IRS Will Have Access to Your Medical Files
There have been a lot of really strange theories put out there about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will mean for the American people. Rumor has it Section 204, Subsection 5 mandates everyone fry up some live kittens (the cuter the better but the law leaves that up to individuals). One of the more pervasive theories (after death panels) is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have access to patients’ medical files -- something that violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). That rule dictates who medical facilities can share personal medical information and they cannot just share with anyone without patient permission.
Another interesting fact about the law is how it will change health insurance premiums and how where a person lives will dictate what benefits they will see. States that are complying with the law (New York, California) will see their residents get much better savings while those who are not (Florida, Texas) won’t see the same savings.
The GOP opposes implementation because they know it will end up being popular. Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed that Medicare would lead to future conversations about “what it was like to live in America when we were free.” It is now a wildly popular program that benefits millions of seniors.
Here’s a nifty guide to some of the other myths about the law.
The former South Carolina governor and current US Congressman accused President Obama of “inflicting pain” to gain political favor. Yes, the man who fled to Argentina after telling staffers he was hiking the Appalachian Trail and then came home and announced his lover down there was his “soul mate” -- on TV no less, probably inflicting all sorts of pain on his then wife, Jenny, is accusing the president of this. Congressman, do your job and the pain of this will end faster than making ridiculous statements like that. Congress, not the president, has the “power of the purse.”
And if you missed it...
Megyn Kelly started her new show “the Kelly File” with a stunning interview with Ted Cruz where she asked him, What’s it like to be the most hated man in America?