Our not-so-long national nightmare is finally over! The House of Representatives just approved a Senate bill to finance the government and raise the debt ceiling, paving the way for the restoration of government services and the return of furloughed workers. Analysts portray the deal as a complete repudiation of the Republican Party's extremist wing, a political defeat of historic proportions, but this is unfair.
True, the Tea Party faction failed to achieve its primary goal--defunding the Affordable Care Act--but everybody knew they would fail. Saying the Republicans lost that battle is like saying the New York Mets lost this year's World Series: They were never in it to begin with.
And, sure, right now the Republican "brand" is about as popular as anal herpes, but given the American electorate's attention span, they have every possibility of bouncing back by next year's elections--unless they are stupid enough to pick this kind of battle again next October. With Michele Bachmann retiring, though, the collective IQ of the GOP congressional caucus will probably rise just enough to allow them to avoid that debacle. Too bad.
But amidst all the bad news for the GOP, let's not overlook the silver lining, the major concession they managed to wring from recalcitrant Democrats: a "slight tightening of income verification rules for Americans accessing new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act."
I know you probably think that doesn't sound like much, but that's because you don't know what it really means! The Tea Party scored a major victory here. (My fellow liberals better brace themselves.) According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, under the rules approved as part of this budget deal, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must "report to Congress by Jan. 1st on the 'procedures' in place to verify eligibility" for subsidies offered to help people pay for health insurance. And as if that weren't enough, by July 1st, the Secretary must report on the effectiveness of the verification!
Well, Tea Party, I tip my hat! You sure showed us! I hope it was worth it.