The Tea Party's Unhealthy Obsession

The tea party's fixation on repealing the Affordable Care Act is helping nobody.

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Bipartisanship is a four letter word to the tea party zealots in Congress.

This week, Congressional Republicans dismissed President Obama's proposal for corporate tax cuts out of hand. Last year, the president proposed the American Jobs Act, which House Republicans didn't even consider despite the inclusion of tax cuts for businesses that hired new employees.

The president generously proposes and the House GOP caucus automatically disposes. Corporate tax cuts are the holy grail of the Republican Party, so the GOP's resistance to the president's proposals makes me think that House Republicans would automatically reject any proposal from the White House. I'm sure that Republicans would even find a reason to reject a plan initiated by Obama to build a memorial on the capital mall dedicated to conservative hero Ronald Reagan.

The president has given up on congressional Republicans, but he hasn't given up on the American people.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

In a series of speeches and proposals, Obama has discussed the urgent need to invest in projects that will put Americans back to work and rebuild our sagging infrastructure of bridges, water systems and transportation. The president has also explicitly denounced the politics of austerity as a road to prosperity. The sequester budget cuts have already slowed the economic recovery and the additional cuts that the tea party wants will reverse the fragile economic recovery.

The president has said that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's package of budget cuts, his so called Path to Prosperity, is really the path to austerity, which runs directly into the road of recession. Besides austerity, the only thing that congressional Republicans have to offer is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would, in turn, repeal the new restrictions against predatory health insurance company rip offs.

The public worries about jobs and the economy. Congressional Republicans have not only rejected the president's constructive economic proposals, but they have an unhealthy obsession with destroying the progress created with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans have voted 38 times to repeal the new health care reform law. Now, Tea Party zealots like Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, want to force repeal of the law with the threat of a government shutdown.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

The GOP would be a lot better off if it would bet the farm on a key economic issue. Playing chicken with a government shutdown to repeal Obamacare is a risky wager. Voting 38 times against the health care law makes it seem like the GOP is a one trick pony racing in the wrong direction.

The president is also trying to move his own party away from the politics of austerity. Democrats can't beat Republicans in a battle of green eyeshades. Eyeshades have their uses, but mostly they limit vision.

The Grand Old Party's obsession with the Affordable Care Act not only ignores the public concern about the economy, but it has created an internal Republic party crisis. This week, Cruz laid into Republicans who don't want to play a game of chicken with ACA repeal and a government shutdown. The battle between the Tea Party radicals and establishment Republicans will be prime time TV for the next few months.

Gridlock has the economy in a headlock. Hopefully President Obama can use his bully pulpit to move Republicans off the dime.

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