Times Record: Tea party Hell (Oct. 11, 2013)

Let’s see if we have this straight.

Republicans shut down the entire federal government over a single law.

Maine’s Republican governor spent his entire first term railing against government spending and, in fact, rejected hundreds of millions in federal funds for Medicare expansion, among other available federal dollars, in a state where every $1 sent to the feds brings back $1.78. Indeed, he once infamously told the president to “go to hell” over federal expenditures.

So now that Maine is being shut off from the federal till — this is an emergency? Sounds rather like a dream come true for the right wing, the result of deliberate government sabotage.

There’s no shortage of vague, anecdotal policymaking coming from conservatives these days. The crisis this time is Obamacare. Or the federal deficit. It’s hard to keep track which completely predictable and well known government policy is being protested at the barrel of a loaded gun while the poor, veterans and the hungry get shafted.

The breakdown in our governance is being forced by a litany of fiscal concerns that conservatives keep telling us is going to cause a breakdown.

Lo and behold, it has. Retirees and veterans and food stamp recipients are paying the price. But let’s be clear: They are not collateral damage. They are the precise targets of the dull hammer conservatives use at every level to shrink government programs no sane legislator would ever oppose in a roll call. This is a deliberate social experiment to see how little government we need, orchestrated by tea party members of the House where spending bills originate.

At every level, Republicans are not only shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, they’re also burning the popcorn.

Gov. Paul LePage briefed only Republican legislators — no Democrats — about his decision Wednesday to declare a “civil emergency” in the federal shutdown — typical of the hyperpartisan, illusory nature of the battle over the government spending.

So is LePage’s emergency an attempt at stemming chaos, or a way to unilaterally and without discussion usurp the power of the federal government? How is suspending Maine’s democratic institutions and democratically crafted laws supposed to help?

To the extent he has a plan at all, what will the governor do? Furlough state workers? Shutter the departments of Environmental Protection or Education — twin terrors of the Maine business community? Roll tanks on the Department of Health and Human Services?

Ridiculous, we know, until you consider a handful of Republican House members have shut down the federal government in protest of a single law passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the president and endorsed by the Supreme Court and voters in a national presidential referendum. When that starts to look like a nonstarter, move to the debt ceiling debate (and endanger global U.S. credit in the process).

Sounds a bit like a coup, no?

“We have a message that says: One, we’ve had enough of the federal government,” LePage says in the “go to hell” video. “Two, we’ve had enough of the state government. And No. 3, government should be working for the people. … As your governor, you’re gonna be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying ‘Gov. LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’”

So Maine, welcome to Hell.

If there is an “emergency,” it’s one solely of Republican origin that can be ended whenever the tea party wants to take the gun from our collective heads.

Denying a poor family food stamps to make a point about federal deficits is what we’ve come to expect from a party whose discourse includes jokes about bearded women, anal rape and “corrupt” state workers.


A better term for it is sedition.

Look it up, governor.



  1. DaveB

    Let me correct that first sentence for you:
    The Senate Democrats have shut down less than 8% of the federal government over a single funding appropriation.
    You’re welcome.

  2. mike

    “Republicans shut down the entire federal government over a single law” errr, biased much? its more like 17% and the “single law” is 1990 pages of “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” B.S. The partisan media (both sides) is either complicit or responsible for the condition of the republic.

  3. David Treadwell

    Superb column, Bob. Happily, moderate (and sane) Republicans are waking up to the folly of Ted Cruz and his mignons.

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