This isn’t even slippery. It’s raw double talk, and it’s insulting.
Here’s what Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, had to say in The Buffalo News on Oct. 1 as the federal government shutdown took hold: “Today, our conference is united in looking out for what’s best for America, which is delaying, stopping ‘Obamacare’ and some of the more egregious aspects of it.”
Ah, but that was then. Here’s what he said in Friday’s editions of the newspaper, only hours after he voted to continue the shutdown and push the country into default:
“I think Sen. [Ted] Cruz has done a disservice to the Republican Party. He is an extremist, and he’s the one that had the rallying cry of repeal Obamacare, defund Obamacare, delay Obamacare.”
Perhaps Collins sees a significant distinction between Cruz’s cheerleading for closing the government over the health care law and his own ringing endorsement of that foolhardy strategy, but we suspect he is alone in holding that peculiar view.
And what do the rantings of a right-wing senator have to do with how a member of the House of Representatives votes, in any case? Why would Republican House members – and Collins in particular – take their marching orders from a freshman senator who shows no evidence of common sense?
As Erie County residents know, their former county executive is as tough as nails. Collins didn’t have to follow Cruz’s lead. He chose to do that and, as his Oct. 1 quote documents, he thought it was a dandy idea.
What is more, he didn’t have to vote against ending the shutdown and raising the debt limit on Wednesday. The strategy had failed, as it had to, and there was no time to craft a better law that would attract enough votes, open the government and prevent the country from defaulting on its debts.
Every other Republican in New York but one recognized that the only responsible vote was to support the bipartisan bill painstakingly crafted in the Senate. Not Collins. However much he wants to evade responsibility for his votes, the record is clear. He signed on with Cruz – not once, but twice – then tried to claim innocence. It’s like a kid with chocolate icing smeared on his face denying he ate any of the cake. He should have just taken his lumps.
So it is, too, with Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning – the other New York Republican who was content to set off another recession. He also voted to begin and then, on the brink of fiscal disaster, to continue the shutdown. And then, like Collins, he tried to squirm out of the noose into which he had cheerfully stuck his head. And the country’s.
“I think the initial strategy of defunding Obamacare that started us down this path, to me, was something that clearly was unachievable,” Reed now says.
In some ways, Reed’s dissembling is more puzzling than Collins’. He already faces a stiff challenge in his Southern Tier district next year, while Collins’ district is reliably conservative. But then, none of this makes much sense.
It will be interesting to see how Collins and Reed continue to explain away these votes, which, one can only hope, are the worst they will ever cast.
We will see soon enough. The next default date arrives in February.