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“Celebrating Misery”: House Republicans’ Ghoulish Defunding Rally

There was something ghoulish about the rally that House Republicans held today in the Rayburn Room after they voted to defund health care reform. The party atmosphere was so boisterous, the cheers and laughter so loud, that it was easy to forget everyone in the room had just voted to keep tens of millions of people from getting health insurance.

By keeping spending at its current levels through mid-December, they had also voted to continue the sequester, which is preventing millions of people from getting public housing subsidies, Head Start seats, and unemployment benefits. The sequester is also taking a serious toll on scientific research and investment in infrastructure, not to mention its infuriating drag on employment and the economic recovery. How about another round of applause?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course, from a House that had voted the previous day to cut food stamps for 3.8 million low-income people, including many very young and very old recipients. But at least they didn’t have a party to celebrate that vote.

Today, though, everyone was in a great mood.

“When we acted, it wasn’t just a group of Republicans, but it was a bipartisan vote,” said Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Whip. (O.K., fine. Two Democrats voted for it, and 188 voted against.) “Let me state that again because I want to make sure you write it correctly. [Huge laughter.] It was a bipartisan vote because we’re Americans first! [Cheers, applause.]”

But some Americans are last, like the millions who would have to get all their medical care from an emergency room if the House had its way. That didn’t seem to bother Eric Cantor, the Republican leader, who pushed through the food-stamp bill and today claimed the health law was turning the country into a part-time economy. (Actually, the recession had started that trend long before President Obama’s health law took effect.)

Mr. Cantor called on Senate Democrats to pass the House bill, which isn’t going to happen, and even named a few from conservative states, like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who Republicans hope to defeat for re-election by linking them to the health law.

What he didn’t mention, though, is that the House’s real beef is with Senate Republicans, not Democrats, many of whom have denounced the extremist tactic of threatening a government shutdown if health reform isn’t defunded. The defeat of the House demand in the Senate is pre-ordained, and when the measure comes back to the House next week without any mention of the health law, and with little time left to avoid a shutdown, the laughter and applause will be long gone.

 

By: David Firestone, Editors Blog, The New York Times, September 20, 2013

September 21, 2013 - Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , ,

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