A Cynic’s New Suit

While impeaching Bill Clinton over a blowjob remains the gold standard for absurdity and cynicism, the House GOP plan to sue Obama is impressive. This same House GOP that’s now voted 54 times to repeal the ACA will next sue the president for partially delaying its implementation. You cant make this stuff up.

Starting this year, the ACA requires corporations with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance. Obama unilaterally gave a one-year extension, and will not enforce the provision until 2015. This move was sensible because insurance markets should mature more over that time, making compliance less burdensome on companies in what remains a tepid recovery. It’s the sort of legal fix that Congress would have taken care of itself in years passed – but today’s radical GOP would prefer to see the ACA fail, instead of making uncontentious changes to improve it.

And that’s why the GOP is unhappy to see part of its most hated law put on hold. Of course, procedure is important, and Obama’s changing of the law via executive order merits scrutiny. But one cannot help but note that this is a strange executive act for the House GOP to sue over – the irresistible inference being that they couldnt find anything better; and that they think their constituents are too dumb to pick up on the details.

The lawsuit is emblematic of the GOP’s plan to resist the president on every issue, even on issues they agree on. In 2010, e.g., John McCain was a co-sponsor of a Senate resolution to establish a deficit reduction task force – Mitch McConnell was an outspoken supporter. After some deliberation, President Obama also came out in support of the resolution. At which point, McCain and McConnell did something rather curious – if by “curious” one means “revolting” – they did an about-face, and with their GOP colleagues, they killed the bill. Never mind that they thought it was good law – good for their constituents, good for the country. As long as Obama supported it, they would not, cynically sacrificing a measure they had previously lauded on the Senate floor.*

Then there’s McConnell’s famous remark that – in the face of the worst economic crisis in 80 years – his number one priority was to make Obama a one-term president. And so obstructionism for its own sake has become the GOP’s highest policy objective. Seemingly unsatisfied with sitting on their hands while one crisis after another passes without legislative action, the House GOP would next see to it that the executive branch also does nothing. Or perhaps Boehner cannot resist making literal the metaphor sometimes used to describe him – as he moves ahead with his empty suit….





* this anecdote is discussed in It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Mann and Ornstein – a fascinating and infuriating read.






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