Banana Republicanism

One of the signs that a nation has reached an oligarchic state in which control over major decisions has become vested in a super-wealthy class working through its puppets is that the normal institutions of governance by elected representatives start to sink into irrelevance and become almost clownish in their operations.

We saw this on display last week in the US House of Representatives. They had to deal with something called the ‘doc fix’ bill that calls for raising the payments made to doctors under Medicare. This naturally results in greater government expenditures and thus will raise the debt unless expenditures are cut elsewhere or revenues are raised to compensate. Since the only things Republicans want to cut are benefits to the poor and those have already been done, and raising taxes is considered blasphemy, the Republican leadership were in a bind since they wanted to pass the doc fix bill since the powerful medical lobby wanted it.

So what did they do? Martin Longman says that the Republican leadership called a recess so that members left the chamber, then quickly reconvened the House and called for a voice vote before most Republicans returned, after warning the Democrats about beforehand and getting their support. But despite those shenanigans, even that voice vote seemed to go against them but they declared they had won the vote anyway.

Not surprisingly, the Tea Party faction is highly miffed at this kind of gamesmanship and are calling speaker John Boehner a czar for his maneuvering. But it would not surprise me if they too were playing games and pretending outrage, so that they could get the bill passed and not face the wrath of their rabid constituents.

The GOP should change its name to the Banana Republican Party since that is more apropos.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    According to PBS, there is more to this than just balancing the budget. This legislation also included a “fix” to Obamacare that both Boehner and Democrats supported and thus would have suffered a knee-jerk opposition from the Tea Baggers.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Since the only things Republicans want to cut are benefits to the poor and those have already been done…

    It could be done harder. We could even levy a poverty tax; that would provide a disincentive so people keep away from poverty.

  3. Numenaster says

    This reminds me of the sort of nonsense that the Taiwanese legislature engaged in back in the 90s when I lived there. The country was pretty much centrally operated from the president’s office (by design), and the legislature had little real power. Legislators showed up anyway, and debated fiercely over trivial nonsense. There was an actual seltzer water fight on the main floor of the assembly. It was entertaining to watch when I was a visitor, but seeing it at home is much more disturbing.

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