Some Republican leaders here, including U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, were opposed to the GOP “shutting down” the federal government, but rest assured they are just as responsible as anyone.
And it looks like Oklahoma City, in particular, could suffer because of it.
Coburn, and other GOP politicians here, such as Gov. Mary Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt, have been irrational critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), labeled by Republicans as Obamacare, since its inception. The editorial board of The Oklahoman has spread the right-wing craziness on a consistent basis.
So this is what you get when you spread lies and use fear mongering. People get duped, and they wind up supporting radical politicians. The radicals, though a minority in government, need their duped constituents to retain them in office so they double down on the scare tactics. What you get is a partial government shutdown, which we have now.
As you know, the federal shutdown (only 18 percent of the government is affected) began midnight Monday after the Republican-dominated House caved in to GOP radicals and tried to tie together the continued funding of the federal government with the weakening and delaying of the ACA. When Democrats in the Senate refused to blink, the House got its way or, at least, its Tea Party element fringe got its way.
To their credit, both Coburn, Fallin and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, a local Republican, tried to prevent a shutdown. Both Coburn and Cole stated they were publicly opposed to GOP tactics in interviews with the press, and Fallin wrote a letter to Washington political leaders arguing how much a shutdown could hurt state governments.
But the damage they had done couldn’t be overcome. Oklahoma is a state that, under Fallin’s leadership, has sued the federal government over the Affordable Care Act, arguing it shouldn’t be implemented here. She has also refused federal money, offered by the measure, for providing health care to poor people. Both Coburn and Cole have vehemently opposed the ACA, spread misinformation and helped stoke the fires of irrationality here and elsewhere.
Coburn argues the “promises” behind the ACA “were rigged to fail,” as if the ACA is some conspiracy. The ACA was a compromise, and many people in this country, including myself, do want a single-payer system. That’s no secret. The ACA, which is a good-faith effort, tries to blend free-market interests with getting people health care.
Coburn recently said President Barack Obama was getting “perilously close” to impeachment. He didn’t state the reasons explicitly, but the ACA, or at least the perception of the ACA, had to be one of his reasons. That’s the talk of an extremist, not a measured statesman.
Cole makes a big deal out of the fact he has voted against Obamacare at least 40 times and issued a statement that it was a “dark day” when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the new health law.
Fallin has consistently supported the repeal of the ACA, of course.
So, for the record, some of our Congressional Republicans and our governor foment the right-wing anger on a daily basis against the ACA, and then try to move more to the center when it ends in an act of radical extremism. These politicians have demonized the ACA for their own political gain without a regard for the truth, and now it’s coming home to roost.
What’s even worse is that our area could get hurt badly by the shutdown. According to a digital map created by The Washington Post, the Oklahoma City area ranks 12th in the nation for its reliance on federal jobs. The maps shows there are 40,000 federal workers in this area. That’s 6.6 percent of the workforce.
How many of those federal employees are going to go without a paycheck, and what does that mean for the local economy? Will we just have to see if the GOP really does want to commit political suicide?