The battle of the industry lobbies: Godzilla vs. Mothra
The current government shutdown began due to stubbornness. The question is: whose stubbornness.
The easiest answer to this would be that of the Republican Party, and of them the members elected by the Tea Party campaigns.
In stepping back from the political theater though and look more at the behind-the-scenes activities we'll realize what this really is…
A Battle of the Oligarchs. More specifically, it is a battle between those who got the Tea Party candidates elected to office (the Koch Brothers and co. who paid for the Tea Party campaigns) against the "financial services industry," or more specifically, the banks and hedge-funds.
Furthermore, it is a battle between the oligarchs who live in a bubble, and the oligarchs who have a much better grip on reality (or rather a much better understanding of what they can get away with).
The government shutdown is just the part of the battle we are allowed to see and also the part that actually affects us.
A quick discussion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is in order. Not a description of what it will do but rather a description of its journey through the government which brought us to the shutdown.
First off, the Republican Party has frequently mentioned the Democratic Party's refusal to negotiate on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They don't really mention how the Act was brought to congress by President Obama and co. with compromises already made in favor of the insurance industry. The Republican Party neglects to mention how after the pre-compromised bill was introduced to congress the GOP once again had the opportunity to make more changes to it. It was at this stage when the individual mandate (at penalty of a fine) for all people to have health insurance was added to the ACA, ironically an idea stemming from Republican congressmen and congresswomen.
Second, the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional. Granted the Supreme Court also ruled in favor of corporations when it came to Citizens United vs. the FEC. They also overturned the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nevertheless, when the Supreme Court makes a ruling on a law that usually holds some legal weight.
Finally, the Presidential race was another way to get the ACA overturned. A very common motif amongst the Republican candidates' platforms was the overturn of Obamacare. Mitt Romney certainly promised to overturn the bill. Nevertheless, President Obama was re-elected.
The above three methods for overturning the Affordable Care Act proved unsuccessful. Thus, a more brazen approach was necessary...
Time to shut down the government. Or, rather, time to partially shut down the government (it fluctuates)...
Some of that chart may be difficult to fully understand though. The language is very dry at times. So check out this article from Al-Jazeera instead which highlights tweets people have made about what services are getting cut.
Even more direct is the following website containing an interactive diagram detailing which parts of the government are shut down. Above the diagram you will find a real time counter of the furloughed wages which have passed $1 billion by now.
Those are the effects on the public sector which the government shut down is having. It is quite serious.
Earlier this was all called a battle of the bank lobbies, or a battle of the oligarchs... or Godzilla vs. Mothra; why though?
First off let's have a look at this article from The Atlantic which points the finger at the 32 Republican congressmen and women who are behind the current shutdown.
Now let's quickly check out the Wikipedia page which lists the current politicians who were elected by the corporately funded Tea Party protests and which states and districts they were elected from!
(Note: The reader is advised to open the previous two links in separate tabs so as to see which politicians The Atlantic makes note of, and then see which of those candidates have roots in the Tea Party protests. Just find the politician's name and where they represent. Then scroll through the Wikipedia page for the state to see which politicians that caused the shutdown are from the Tea Party.)Mind you, the politicians who started the shutdown are not all Tea Partiers; most are though...
In numerous press conferences President Obama could be quoted as saying there was one specific group, of one specific party in one specific house of congress that was forcing the government shut down. He didn't name any particular groups but it's obvious from the above links that he's referring to the Tea Partiers.
Now remember how the Tea Party was corporately promoted and funded...
See a report-back article of a peer-reviewed study conducted by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health (whose site is currently deficient because of the government shutdown)
The billionaire oligarchs (and their lobbies) behind the Tea Party were the ones who couldn't get the Affordable Care Act defunded and, as a result, decided to shut down the government in protest.
Now for the other oligarch political financiers... the "financial services industry."
See an article form Bloomberg News about the heads of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs meeting with President Obama to discuss the shutdown and the coming debt ceiling negotiations.
In the article it is explained that the bank heads were apolitical about defunding Obamacare (ACA) and the reasons for the current shutdown. The President held the meeting with these megabank heads to hopefully get them to help him relay the severity of the United States' potentially defaulting on their bills this year.
“Wall Street can have an influence, CEOs around the country can have an influence,” Obama said in an interview today with CNBC. “I think it is important for them to recognize that this is going to have a profound impact on our economy and their bottom lines, their employees, and their shareholders.”Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, remarked:
“There’s precedent for a government shutdown; there’s no precedent for default,” he said. “We really haven’t seen this before and I’m not anxious to be part of the process to witness this.”So while the bankers, and their lobbyists, are apolitical about the current reasons for the shutdown they are not apolitical about the potential for a default on the debt ceiling to hurt their bottom lines.
The bankers have come out against a shutdown which lasts through the debt ceiling. Like clockwork the corporations (and corresponding lobbies) behind the shutdown, who stood strong at first, now seem to be realizing they bit off more than they could chew. Take, for example, Heritage Action who is still in favor of defunding Obamacare (ACA) but are also now opposed to defaulting on the debt ceiling.
Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, has lashed out at Senator Cruz and, in a very dodgy way, said the same as Heritage Action with regards to the shutdown. Read here.
(Note: In case you didn't know Americans for Tax Reform (and Grover Norquist) is the lobby which created the anti-tax pledge which "nearly every Republican has signed" (Quote from above article). This is a pledge which says that any signer of it will never vote to raise taxes. Mind you when signing this pledge, it is something which is meant to supersede the signer's oath of office, should they be elected (that's treasonous on the signer's part, by the way).Finally, the Koch's themselves are slipping.
Read this article from another Daily Kos contributor. It contains sourced quotes from Freedom Works, a Koch group, where the shutdown is encouraged. Then it contains a letter from Koch Industries "setting the record straight" that they are against Obamacare but not necessarily in favor of a shutdown.
All things together the government shutdown is not just about Democrats against Republicans, or even a certain group of Republicans interfering with the rest of the government. The political players (politicians) are just the actors who are in the visible sector for the behind-the-scenes corporate powers, and financiers, who pay for electoral campaigns where the real control lies.
Earlier, this whole charade was also described as a battle between those who know what they can get away with, and those in a bubble. It was described like this because the bankers are the ones who came right out and said they were not happy with where this might lead (i.e. a possible dip in the economy). Those supporting the politicians shutting the government shutdown took much longer to say anything.
Also remember; the banks heads who came out and said they were uneasy were also the ones who perfectly calculated how they would get away with, and bailed out of, the 2008 crash. Those who funded the Tea Party campaigns really just found a way to have fun and gain more control of government. Based on their reactions and their stepping back from the government shutdown, it seems they might think their "fun" is getting out of hand. Also, the "financial services industry" has a lot more legal power and money, as a combined unit, than those behind the Tea Party campaigns.
As such we have a battle of the billionaires currently underway on Capital Hill. It also seems like we have a few billionaires behind the right who are pissing off the wrong billionaires on the more-left right by messing with their money. Meanwhile, the public gets to watch the show in D.C. and suffer the consequences of cut-backs and furloughs in the public sector as the rich play their games.
I believe it was President Obama who phrased it best:
As with every theater performance we can't forget how there is always a character who wins the affection of the audience, and one who ends up with their scorn. In this case the Democratic Party is definitely coming out of this performance as the "good guys," so to speak. The Republican Party is losing a great deal of support, to the point where only about 40% of the Tea Party constituency actually support the shutdown tactic just over Obamacare.
Now, before the left starts celebrating, let's just remember; if the Republican Party crashes as a result all we have left are Democrats. From a progressive standpoint this is comparatively better. From a non-comparative position, having a Democratic stronghold (still being funneled oligarch money) is not much better.
Oh, these manufactured crises... The threat of not being able to raise the debt ceiling! The threat of too much government spending overall! Just think... Not even a month ago! We had enough money to bomb Syria.
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