You could call it treason. The federal government is heading for its first shutdown in 17 years.

Radical tea party Republicans have hijacked control of their party, leaving House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, looking weaker than ever, and are threatening not to continue funding the federal government unless they can destroy or delay the "Obamacare" law they hate so much, a law which is set to start enrolling the uninsured in health insurance exchanges this week.

As others have noted, including James Fallows writing in The Atlantic, there is no precedent "for demanding the reversal of major legislation as a condition for routine government operations." But that is where we are now.

Tea party Republicans are ready to hurt the country in order to deny millions of Americans health insurance. Early Sunday, the House voted to repeal a tax on medical devices in the law and then voted to delay the law’s implementation for a year. Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has said neither of these proposals will go anywhere in the Senate.

This is blackmail pure and simple, and unprecedented at that. This not a case of both parties being wrong; it is a case of the GOP having a nervous breakdown or identity crisis, with tea party House members in safe seats created by Gerrymandering holding the country hostage for their radical ideology.


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Even if the shutdown of government services will only be "partial" -- never mind the furloughing of 800,000 workers and others working without pay -- how much of this nonsense can the nation take? For up ahead, Congress in mid-October will again need to raise the debt ceiling, something that used to be routine in saner times.

That crisis could be even worse, for -- Fallows again -- "the debt ceiling vote is not about future spending decisions.

It is about voting to cover expenditures that Congress has already authorized. There is no sane reason for subjecting this to a repeated vote."

He adds, "There is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. It is radical and dangerous for the economy and our process of government and its departure from past political disagreements can’t be buffed away or ignored."

Indeed, what is going on now is truly radical, and the plain fact is that this is yet another of the crises we have seen in recent years manufactured by the GOP -- and the GOP should get all the blame.

Democrats in Congress and President Obama need to hold the line on this unprecedented blackmail and not reward it in any way.

~ Mark E. Rondeau