Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 8, 2013

We the People: Blackmail on the Potomac

By Clyde Ussery
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — A political science professor I once knew thought politics should be a profession like medicine and law, with strict licensing and educational requirements. It was hard for me to take him seriously since he also thought people should be permitted to perform their own surgery. But since a group of fanatical crazies with no experience and no ethics has hijacked Congress, I have begun to see some merit to the professor’s idea of licensed professional politicians. The professor’s plan probably couldn’t take the greed and prejudice out of politicians’ hearts, but revoking their licenses could be a way to get rid of them without having to wait for death or indictment.

And it would be a real bonus if budding politicians learned what it means when they take the oath of office and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Tea-party Republicans are dishonoring the very spirit of their oath to uphold the Constitution. Instead of defending the government that the Constitution established, they are wrecking it. The first powers the Constitution lists for Congress is collecting taxes, paying bills, and borrowing money when necessary. So it would seem those things were meant to be top priority. By shutting down government and threatening to default, Congressional Republicans are refusing to do their basic job: paying the government’s bills.

In the normal course of things, Congress passes laws or repeals them by majority vote. But today’s bunch of extremists can’t muster a majority to repeal the Affordable Care Act, passed into law by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. So they have chosen extortion, trying to coerce the President and the Senate into doing what they want by shutting down the government. This means almost a million additional people without jobs, unimaginable harm to our most vulnerable citizens, and further damage to the economy.

We have been assured that the government shutdown will not stop Social Security checks. But if the government defaults, that will be another story. That is when you will hear screaming across the land, and it won’t all be coming from Democrats.

In addition to all the domestic havoc, the same Republicans who obsessed over the Benghazi attack are now putting U.S. embassies across the world at risk. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, 72 percent of the civilian intelligence agency workforce has been furloughed. A senior national security lawyer in the Bush administration warned that shutdown advocates “should be gravely concerned about the risks they are taking with the security of the United States.”

It is unbelievable. The Affordable Care Act, designed as a free-market, private healthcare exchange system, a plan initially hatched by the very Conservative Heritage Foundation, has now become a communist plot. Is all of this chaos an effort to make it impossible for millions of Americans to get the affordable health care that the people want?

The professor’s idea for do-it-yourself surgery is still at the top of my “never want to do that” list, just below sharing a nest with vipers and going hunting with Dick Cheney. But licensed professional politicians might raise the bar a bit. Right now it is set pretty low.