Many Americans are under the impression that the government shutdown is sudden, or the result of a bipartisan failure to reach agreement. Neither of those is true. In fact, this shutdown is the result of planning and careful execution by the most extreme of the GOP-controlled House — the Tea Party. The plan to defund Obamacare, even at the cost of government shutdown, has been in place for quite some time. Furthermore, the “piecemeal” refunding agreements are giving the Koch brothers exactly what they want.
It all started back in February, when a group of right-wing activists created and signed a so-called “coalition letter,” saying that “Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late.” The letter was signed by more than 40 conservative activists, including notables such as Erick Erickson of RedState.com, Edwin Meese III, the former Attorney General under Reagan, and Jenny Meese, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. For the full list, click the link above.
Those activists have worked with Tea Partiers in Congress to strategize on how to shut down the healthcare law, as well as taking up their own campaigns against reform. In fact, 200 million Koch-tainted dollars have found their way into the nonprofits included in the war on healthcare reform. At least one part of where that money went is something you’ll be familiar with — the disturbing Uncle Sam ads released by Generation Opportunity. The astroturf strategy of the right has been working, too — after all, the government is shut down, thanks to the Tea Party congresspeople.
In case you haven’t seen it, here’s one of the ads released by Generation Opportunity:
The letter details the plan to defund Obamacare, subverting the democratic process by using the appropriations bill to play partisan politics. There are many in the media that are arguing that because the government shutdown move by the right is legal, it is acceptable, and this talking point is false and needs to be defeated. When it comes to bipartisan negotiations, yes, each side should make concessions and we should move forward. However, the government shutdown is hurting everyone equally. It isn’t good for Republicans, and nor does anyone want it. Hostage-taking — the Tea Party strategy being implemented here — cannot be accepted on Capitol Hill. Every time one side or the other disagrees, moving forward, are we going to risk our economy and hurt millions of Americans in grandstanding by the petulant minority? I sure hope not.
They also released an Obamacare defunding “toolkit” for use by activists, congressional staffers, or organizations, which includes suggested Tweets and talking points, many of which are easily now found across all media outlets as well as in the mouths of Washington politicians, such as House Speaker Boehner.
Tea Partiers seem to really think they represent the will of the American people, as reported by the New York Times in an illuminating article about the government shutdown plan:
On Capitol Hill, the advocates found willing partners in Tea Party conservatives, who have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government if they do not get their way on spending issues. This time they said they were so alarmed by the health law that they were willing to risk a shutdown over it. (“This is exactly what the public wants,” Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, said on the eve of the shutdown.)
It’s unclear whether this belief of the Tea Party caucus represents willful ignorance of the wishes of the American people, which were clearly presented during the 2012 election cycle, or openly malicious intent, except in the cases of Rep. Bachmann and a couple of others, who seem to lack the cognitive presence to both speak and make sense at one time.
To understand exactly how bad this is for America, you have to follow the money. The NYT reports,
A review of tax records, campaign finance reports and corporate filings shows that hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised and spent since 2012 by organizations, many of them loosely connected, leading opposition to the measure.
One of the biggest sources of conservative money is Freedom Partners, a tax-exempt “business league” that claims more than 200 members, each of whom pays at least $100,000 in dues. The group’s board is headed by a longtime executive of Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by the Koch brothers, who were among the original financiers of the Tea Party movement. The Kochs declined to comment.
And deregulation and government limitation have been a Koch platform for decades. In fact, when David Koch was the 1980 Libertarian Vice President candidate, their platform included the following:
Obviously, the bid for the White House was a miserable failure. Since then, however, the Kochs have taken to buying judicial elections and forming astroturf groups that spend money on Koch causes, culminating in a massive network of activists, conservative judges, think tanks, nonprofits and politicians aimed at an extreme right-wing deregulation. The Kochs are the source of both the Tea Party movement and the anarcho-capitalist strain of libertarianism given mainstream attention due to it, and their network is responsible for a government shutdown long in the making.
Originally written for Occupy Democrats.