Juan Williams: Republicans Alone Are Responsible for 'Civility's Breakdown'

January 20th, 2016 1:40 PM

Poor President Barack Obama.

Juan Williams, in a Monday column at The Hill, insists that "the president is not to blame for the rancor and polarization that have characterized his presidency," and "is not responsible for the unprecedented obstructionism employed by (Mitch) McConnell’s Senate Republicans." Why, In Williams's world, Obama has apparently been the very model of civility, while Republicans "have let anger and extreme voices define their party."

The photo used at Williams's column is telling. It's an unflattering image of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, perhaps at the moment in September 2009 when he shouted "You lie!" as Obama told Congress that Obamacare "would not apply to those who are here illegally."

I suppose it's possible that Obama believed what he said at the time, but that doesn't make it the truth. The fact is that the Obama administration has wanted to extend ACA eligibility to "DREAMers," aka "certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and went to school here," for over a year.

Although that move is an obvious betrayal of intent, it doesn't demonstrate that Obama was not telling the truth in 2009.

This item from Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart in 2014 does (bolds are mine throughout this post):

... it would appear that the White House owes Wilson an apology, as Covered California–the flagship of state Obamacare exchanges–is recruiting illegal (“undocumented”) immigrants to sign up for the program, regardless of their eligibility.

The Covered California website includes a special page entitled: “No temas si eres indocumentado/a y quieres inscribir a tu familia en un seguro médico” (“Fear not if you are undocumented and want to enroll your family in health insurance”). The website goes on to explain that information shared with Obamacare cannot be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It does not explicitly warn that illegal aliens are ineligible.

“According to the laws and implementing regulations,” the website says, “the information provided by individuals for coverage can not be used for purposes other than ensuring the efficient functioning of the insurance market (Covered California) or administration of the program, or to verify certain eligibility determinations including verification of the immigration status of these people.”

In other words, California is treating its Obamacare exchange as a de facto sanctuary for illegals. In these circumstances, there's no reasonable doubt that at least some illegals have enrolled and are collecting benefits.

It takes a special degree of implausible belief suspension to contend that Obamacare's backroom drafters didn't consider the possibility that sanctuary-obsessed Democrats and leftists running their own state exchanges might engage in such actions enabling illegals to enroll in Obamacare with little risk of getting caught — and even less risk of suffering punitive consequences if they were. Joe Wilson and others in the real world saw this coming, and they have been proven right.

With that background, let's get to Williams's whining:

... the president is not to blame for the rancor and polarization that have characterized his presidency.

It was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) who famously declared that his number one goal was to make Obama a “one-term president."

Well, that's what McConnell said, but Williams should know that it isn't how the Senator has acted. To cite just one example, McConnell, former House Speaker John Boehner and current House Speaker Paul Ryan have consistently acquiesced to major elements of Obama's tax-and-spend priorities.

The Congressional Budget Office told us yesterday that the GOP's latest capitulation will have serious short- and long-term budgetary consequences. Since this report is from Andrew Taylor at the Associated Press, a bit of translation is needed:

A government report released Tuesday estimates that this year's budget deficit will rise to $544 billion, an increase over prior estimates that can be attributed largely to tax cuts and spending increases passed by Congress last month. The deficit and debt picture over the long-term has also worsened considerably.

Over the coming decade, CBO (the Congressional Budget Office) predicts deficits totaling $9.4 trillion. That's up $1.5 trillion from its August estimate, with much of the increase mostly due to last month's tax legislation, which permanently extended several tax cuts that Congress had typically renewed temporarily.

What Taylor should have said is that the recent legislation continued the current tax system which had an artificially imposed expiration dates on certain provisions that no one realistically expected would be allowed to expire. It did not "cut taxes."

Taylor negligently failed to report that the revised 2016 deficit projection is $130 million worse than the $414 billion the CBO projected in August of last year.

Juan Williams should note — actually he probably knows all of this, but it gets in the way of his GOP-as-obstructionists meme — that the pliant Ryan and McConnell are allowing the following things to occur this year, according to the related CBO summary:

  • Total spending will rise this year to an off-the-charts record $3.929 trillion. In a reportedly non-inflationary environment, that's 6.6 percent higher than last year's previous record of $3.687 trillion (5.4 percent after adjusting for timing differences relating to when the current fiscal year ends). Under current executive and legislative branch leadership the federal government continues to grows, as it almost always has, in both weak and strong economies.
  • "CBO anticipates that mandatory outlays will be $168 bil- lion higher in 2016 than they were last year." In Washington, "mandatory" means "untouchable — even if their continuance bankrupts future generations."
  • "The substantial increase that CBO expects in net interest spending, $32 billion, results from two factors: Interest rates are beginning to rise, and federal debt is growing." No kidding. We're up to $18.935 trillion, with $8.3 trillion of that occurring during the seven years of the Obama administration. If interest rates rise "unexpectedly," the result has the potential to get much worse, and much more quickly.

The fact that the Republican Congress has allowed all of this to happen makes a mockery of Williams's contentions of incivility and obstructionism.

Williams also dragged everyday conservative voters into the discussion so he could smear them:

Last week in this column, I referenced an NBC News /Esquire/Survey Monkey poll showing political rage among white Republicans, particularly white Republican women, at a fever pitch. Sixty-one percent of Republicans said they had grown angrier over current events as compared to 42 percent of Democrats.

Even Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who owes his Speakership to the angry Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus who ousted his predecessor, former-Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), is wary of the discontent coming from his party these days.

The GOP “is in a debate with itself," Ryan said recently, advising the party to do a better job of appealing to people who “feel the country is more polarized and more bitter.” But as the leader of the Republican House, he took no responsibility for his party stirring the bitter brew.

... now the country is in a jumble because the GOP is in a jumble. Democracy breaks down when one of the two political parties refuses to compromise or respect the twice-elected president, and throws a temper tantrum when its members don’t get their way.

This isn’t President Obama’s fault. ... It is the fault of the leaders of the Republican Party who have let anger and extreme voices define their party.

Uh, Juan, the poll asked about "anger," not "rage," which is "extreme anger." Your use of "rage" is a fundamentally dishonest smear of people who are genuinely upset with this nation's direction, and have every right to be. While on that topic, discontent with this nation's direction, which has rarely been below 60 percent and has occasionally been as high as 80 percent during the past six years, is a bipartisan, long-term phenomenon.

In Williams's world, "extreme" is following the Constitution and the rule of law and being fiscally responsible. "Reasonable" is spending the nation into insolvency under a regime dominated by unconstitutional executive actions in a left-dominated atmosphere where everyone who disagree with their suicidal economic and social ideas is an extremist, racist, bigot, etc.

Finally there's the matter of Obama himself. Williams is blind in one eye and can't see out of the other if he really believes that Obama, who has clearly been the "most polarizing president in modern history." Unlike his predecessors, Obama's demeanor and statements, despite his occasionally stated and obviously insincere regrets, betray the fact that this situation doesn't genuinely bother him in the least.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.