Friday, October 4, 2013

Government by hissy-fit hurts the nation

   Months ago, about 80 Republicans in Congress stated in a letter that it was their goal to shut down the federal government. Now they want to blur the truth of that action and to continue to govern as though the federal government has no legitimate purpose.
    It’s no wonder the House failed on Monday to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. As he attempted to get his own way above all others on Tuesday, Rep. Marlin Suzman of Indiana sounded more like a street gang member when he said, “We aren’t going to be disrespected. We got to get something out of this, and I don’t even know what that is.”
    What Republicans in Congress are acting on is a mistaken belief that they have some nonconstitutional right to decide that their opinions count more than a law that’s already in place. That makes it unlikely that they will get off the dime and reopen the government as long as the radical right defines its goal as not being “dissed.”
    The fact that any congressman may feel disrespected is not going to keep most of us up at night. What does keep us up is the damage being done by the tactics that sacrifice the broader interests of the American people to the ideology of a narrow minority.
    The federal government shutdown has affected everything from school field trips to Washington, D.C., to treatment of cancer patients.
    The Republicans have proposed piecemeal funding for the some highly visible and popular programs. For example, reopening the national parks would end the lockout of visitors and others like the 16 members of a rafting trip being held at Lee’s Ferry, unable to start a trip through the Grand Canyon that was two years in the planning.
    Resuming veterans benefits is also popular and a great political lever because agreement is almost universal that their service earned them our support.
    However, there seems to be no sympathy and no leverage for parents who were suddenly left without daycare at centers housed in federal buildings, schools that depend on federal food stores for lunches or patients scheduled for potentially life-saving drug trials who find their start date delayed indefinitely.
    The impacts of the Republicans’ political hissy-fit are absurd and unnecessary, and it could get worse.
    The U.S. could default on its debt obligations later this month, because Republicans have simply refused to vote to fund normal federal operations unless a minority of their party gets its own way.
    It’s time for House Speaker John Boehner to call that vote and get on with the business of all the American people.

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