The GOP obstructionists

Who are the obstructionists intent on defunding Obamacare and delaying its implementation?

I appended to Monday’s post on Republican Fire-Eaters this list, compiled by fellow blogger Eric Prileson, giving the names and phone numbers of the 228 Republicans and 2 Democrats who passed a House spending bill to this effect on September 20.

The determination of the House to “hold up” the government until the Affordable Care Act is modified to its liking solidified when House Speaker Boehner and other G.O.P. moderates decided, once again, to cave in to the far-right members of their party.  The 80 radical Republicans leading the charge have been nicknamed the “suicide caucus”–an apt coinage highlighting their resemblance to a terrorist group.

As Thomas L Friedman and others have noted, this group is a minority with some striking geographical and sociological peculiarities.  I encourage you to read Ryan Lizza’s geographical analysis of the suicide caucus, recently published on the New Yorker website.  Accompanying it is a dandy map, based on data from The Cook Political Report, showing the “upcountry” character of the caucus’s constituency. Click on the map to go to its source.



The geography of the suicide caucus shows . . . [that] half of these districts are concentrated in the South, and a quarter of them are in the Midwest, while there’s a smattering of thirteen in the rural West and four in rural Pennsylvania (outside the population centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) . . . . there are no members from New England, the megalopolis corridor from Washington to Boston, or [from] along the Pacific coastline.

These eighty members represent just eighteen per cent of the House and just a third of the two hundred and thirty-three House Republicans. They were elected with fourteen and a half million of the hundred and eighteen million votes cast in House elections last November, or twelve per cent of the total.

The districts represented are also whiter than the nation as a whole.

The South, where many of the obstructionists live, is home to some of the nation’s unhealthiest populations.  Most Southern states, under Republican control, have decided against implementing the ACA-funded expansion of Medicare that might have benefited their neediest citizens.  This interactive map, published in today’s New York Times, shows the millions of people who will be affected by their choice.

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Minorities, if sufficiently intransigent, can cause great harm if the majority fails to neutralize or contain them, leading to a frightful dynamic that President Lincoln, long ago, most eloquently described.

4 responses

  1. A really well written article, so cogent and clear. It summarizes well what is going on. . . . I heard today on WBBM radio that if Boehner would allow a vote on the budget–a clean budget bill–that it would easily pass; the votes are there according to the head counters. He IS responsible for the shutdown.

    • Thank you Sam; I have long been wanting to write on Speaker Boehner and how he has repeatedly passed up the opportunity to gain lasting greatness as a statesman in order to serve the interests of his fractured party. It is a shame he can’t bring himself to throw them over! Millions of people would come flocking back to a more moderate GOP, and the undue influence of this rabid minority would fade.

  2. Fantastic post, Susan. Love the maps. If you overlay the suicide caucus map on the New York Times map you see interesting patterns that reveal the utter shamelessness of the far right’s actions. Poor people on the Texas-Louisiana border have been forsaken, for example. Looks like some Native Americans in Arizona got a raw deal too (though perhaps they have their own -poorly funded, no doubt — health service.

    • You’re right about the maps, KW. I have heard that groups opposed to the individual mandate are running misleading ads in some areas, trying to keep alive the old myth that Uncle Sam is going to be interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. . . . on the other hand, insurance companies are going to begin to promote the individual mandate, because they stand to gain from high levels of enrollment. The more popular the new provisions are, the tougher it’s going to be for the obstructionists. . . and their attempt to withhold a benefit from their own people.