Republican tactics in the U.S. Congress

I offer a brief column about Republican tactics in the U.S. Congress. It serves as a warning to Israel on a few levels. Currently, the Tea Party (extreme right wing of the Republican party) is holding up the implementation of the Affordable Health Care act in the U.S. The act enables among other things students to get insurance, the 30-50 million uninsured poor in the U.S. to get coverage, etc. Republicans do not appreciate this “creeping” socialized approach to governance. However, the plan was fashioned by Obama during his first term, and it was approved at that time by both the House and the Senate. Consequently, on a challenge by the Republicans, the Supreme Court (which itself is right-leaning, because of Bush appointees) indicated the law was constitutional. Finally, extreme Republicans have tried to override the law on 42 occasions and lost. Thus, all branches of government approved the law, and overrides have been defeated, and yet the same group is now prepared to shut the government if the law is not de-funded.
This is where extremism gets you. Regardless of right or left, extremism becomes a tail that wags the dog-the few hold an entire country hostage. It might be noted that this is a political move for the Republicans made no attempt to bring spending under control during the Bush administration, when huge debts were amassed.

Before my friends on the right rush to support their “allies” back home it is worth pointing out two concerns. First, according to two independent reports on the state of health care worldwide, the U.S. ranks toward the bottom among the top 50 industrialized States. By the way, Israel, with socialized medicine ranks between 5th and 8th, as I recall, depending upon the report (e.g., World Health Organization). In fact, the top ten countries, all allies of the U.S., have socialized systems. I always find it a bit sad when those on the right extoll the virtues of countries like Israel, ignoring that Israel’s domestic handling of such issues such a health or absorption of distressed populations. Second, and more ominous, the right is now being led by a variety of isolationists. These are people, who want to end foreign aid, including aid to Israel. The same people rejected any military action on Syria. Mind you, I think the possible turn of events, i.e., political solutions, is beneficial to Israel and the world and as most indicated a response to an imminent military threat. The developing ilk of Tea Party Republican may be quite reluctant to engage in even military threat, if it will stretch the U.S. budget. Thus, as a supporter of Israel one might wish to understand the current dynamics of U.S. politics. Moreover, there is a lesson to be learned about allowing more extreme andnarrow interests to exercise too much control in defining the tone of decision-making, in the U.S. and Israel.

About the Author
Seth Greenberg was born in NYC and currently lives in NJ and Jerusalem (half-time in each location); He is a professor of Psychology, having held endowed Chairs at both Union College and Carleton College; He is published in areas of attention, memory, reading, face recognition with a number of Israeli co-authors; He has children and grandchildren in the US and Israel; and he leads student term abroad programs in Israel and hosted Shabbat dinners on campus.