What is the Matter with Republicans? Three Key Issues They’re Getting Wrong

After being out in the cold for years, the GOP is finally back in power. And practically as soon as they took over, they started making one bad decision after another. Is it Mitch McConnell’s fault? John Boehner’s? Or is bad judgment the new Republican brand?

Three older laws are back on the table again. In 2 of the 3 cases, Republicans must accept half the responsibility for passing the laws and the bad consequences. However, now that the issues are up for discussion again, Democrats seem to be thinking more clearly than Republicans.

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Let’s start with the Patriot Act, which I’ve recently spoken to at length. The Republicans (Senator Mitch McConnell, specifically) are leading the charge to extend the bill again – it was supposed to have sunset in 2011. Barack Obama extended it – and expanded it. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats kicked up a fuss. Now the bill is due to expire again, and this time Sen. McConnell is leading the way to salvage a bill that is very harmful to Americans’ civil liberty. The Patriot Act was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by George W. Bush, a Republican president.

  • Original fault: Republicans and Democrats equally to blame.
  • Current fault: Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) is leading the charge to extend the bill.
bush patriot

Lawmakers crowd around to get a last glance at their civil liberties before Bush forfeits them.

Next, there’s the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. This is one area where the GOP has no blood on their hands. They didn’t support it and they continue to oppose it on Constitutional and financial grounds. And the early numbers coming from the healthcare industry are bearing out the warnings they sounded from the beginning. There’s a chance the Supreme Court ruling will come down against the government, and if they do the GOP can dance a little jig because they have thoroughly won. The ACA was passed without a single Republican vote and signed into law by Barack Obama, a Democratic president.

Side note: the media is worried the Obamacare subsidies will be declared unConstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Washington Post and others are now stating that if the subsidies disappear, it’s up to Republicans to find a solution to preserve Obamacare. Really? Are they serious?

  • Original fault: Democrats
  • Current fault: Democrats
President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010.

Obama signs the ACA, as Nancy Pelosi gets really high in the background

Finally, there is the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the bill that all but destroyed economic security for the middle class in the United States. Once again, there was bipartisan support, and it was signed into law by Bill Clinton.

The resulting impact to the economy has been catastrophic to the middle class, and played a significant role in the Great Recession. I’m willing to give lawmakers the benefit of the doubt and accept that they made a stupid mistake and had no idea how bad NAFTA was for the US when then enacted it.

clinton nafta

Clinton signs NAFTA into law, and Americans out of work

The current brilliant idea, undoubtedly advanced by a politician who has never had a real job, is: “Why not expand NAFTA, so we can destroy what’s left of the working class? And rather than name it something like the Outsourcing Americans’ Jobs to Low-Wage Workers Overseas bill, let’s call it something more bland, so people don’t notice it so much.  How about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?”

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From all indications, TPP, which is affectionately known as NAFTA – Repackaged and on Steroids, is yet another bill that will devastate American workers.

Elizabeth Warren, the new hero of the left, has come out strongly (and absolutely correctly) against signing the bill into law. In addition to concerns about the bill, there seem to be two reasons for Warren’s opposition:

  1. The President wants fast-track authority to ram TPP through Congress and into law, without due process. This is an egregious violation of trust in the office of the presidency.
  2. The Obama administration refuses to allow the public to read the bill, before it passes. They don’t want it to be picked apart and politicized. In other words, if Americans saw it, they would demand changes. So the Most Transparent Administration Ever decided no one except Congress can see it until it is too late to do anything about it. Congress may not receive a copy of the bill, take pictures of it, or consult with attorneys or staff about it, lest it leak and the public learns what is in it and stop it.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

But, hey, you know who is for it? The Republicans! They seem to be nearly giddy with excitement – for once, they aren’t being attacked by the media for not capitulating to President Obama (because they actually are capitulating, in this instance).

  • Original fault (NAFTA): Republicans and Democrats equally to blame.
  • Current fault (TPP): Republicans and Barack Obama.

So far, the Republicans have proved to be a big disappointment in office. They were elected to oppose blatantly terrible legislation like this and in the case of TPP, the only respectable thing to do is align with the Elizabeth Warren faction to oppose TPP.  Then, perhaps, both parties could experience the novel joy of doing right by the American taxpayer.

Point to ponder: Where is Joe Biden? One of his saving graces is that he generally stands up for workers, but he’s nowhere to be found.

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