1. Opinion

Ruth: Summertime, and the posturing is easy

Published Aug. 8, 2013

With apologies to the late Nat King Cole, we are now caught up in those intellectually lazy, extremely hazy and very crazy days of summer. These are the days of paranoia, pretzel logic and fear. • Congress is on vacation, so members of the House and Senate have taken up residence around the bonfire of the insanities at Camp Fox in an attempt to once more scare the bejabbers out of voters about creeping socialism, tyranny and Agenda 21. • Congress is essentially on vacation from its de facto vacation. It has been less productive than Maynard G. Krebs even when it shows up to punch the clock in Washington. Perhaps that might explain why so many Republicans are in their districts ripping — for the umpteenth time — the implementation of Obamacare.

If you think you are about to experience the Groundhog Day of political propaganda, you're absolutely right. Since the Affordable Care Act was drafted, every summer hiatus by Congress has been consumed with tea party factotums demanding the law be voided before we all start wearing Mao jackets.

This summer is no different, although it will be the most expensive. As Tampa Bay Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary reported, an estimated $684 million will be spent by the pro- and anti-Obamacare advocates to get their messages out.

Two of the leading voices on repealing the Affordable Care Act are Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Never mind that the two men have been collecting a public paycheck in one form or another for virtually their entire adult lives. Yet they are threatening to shut the government down unless Obamacare is defunded, an idea many other Republicans, who haven't sipped from the tea of spite, regard as naively loopy.

The reckless scheme to fiddle with the fiscal security of the United States by Rubio and Cruz and their pals is irresponsible.

Most of the nation's Republican governors, even those who adamantly oppose Obamacare, have cautioned Rubio, Cruz and the Gang of Kaztenjammers that shutting down the federal government would have a catastrophic impact on their state economies.

But Rubio and Cruz have never had to manage a business or a bureaucracy. Threatening to shut down the country because you didn't get your way is not statesmanship. It's juvenile delinquency.

The verbal battles over the Affordable Care Act also demonstrate how in today's 24-hour news cycle and 24/7 political ambition, some issues never, ever end. As long as Rush Limbaugh is broadcasting, Obamacare will continue to be derided as a North Korean-inspired plot to overtake America.

The Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law in 2010. It was upheld as constitutional by a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. It is the law of the land.

Is it perfect?

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Are there plenty of areas where it can be more effectively amended?

You betcha.

But the law also extends health care to tens of millions of Americans who have no coverage. Oh the tyranny of it all!

In the end, Rubio and Cruz are less concerned with improving an existing law than with advancing their own political interests. Actually legislate? Show up? Work with the party opposite? Not with the tea party breathing down your neck and Rubio taking heat for helping engineer a bipartisan immigration bill.

The summer drags on, made all the more humid by the rising temperature of faux indignity fueled by disingenuous sputtering politicians on the make.

There is good news. By September, everyone goes back to Washington to undertake the grueling work of doing nothing. And we can return to our soda and pretzels and beer in peace.


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