Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
Well, we are in week two of the Republican House's shutdown of the United States Government. I hoped that I would not have to write another article on this national disgrace. I was hoping that the House would get its act together and re-open the government. My faith was misplaced. Not only is there no end in sight to re-start the government, but the fools in charge of Congress seem hellbent on running the US into default.
As I described last week, Congressman Sensenbrenner, the person we elected as our representative to the Government, has been instrumental in shutting our Government down. Our Congressman is personally responsible for every bit of fallout from his Caucus' shutting down of the Government. He is responsible for closing the WW II Memorial and every other National Monument and Park. He is responsible for closing VA offices and for postponing of death benefits to troops killed in action. He is responsible for stopping research at NASA, the DOE, and NIH. He is responsible for every furloughed federal worker who wonders how they will pay their mortgage.
Not wanting to face the full ire of the American public, every time the press points out some shutdown horror story, the House passes a mini-CR to cover that facet of Government. Mini-CR's have been passed to cover National Parks and the NIH. More are on the way. This is no way to run a country ! Re-open the entire federal government! Do it today ! Rather than wasting effort on these half-
as baked measures, take a vote today!
Of course, Congress isn't feeling the shutdown. They are insulated from its effects. They still get their paychecks. At his Sunday evening town hall meeting in New Berlin, Jim Sensenbrenner stated that he had declared all of his staff as “essential”, so that they will not be furloughed. They will continue the critical work of whatever a Congressional staff does. And you can sleep easier knowing that the House gym remains open, allowing our hard working Representatives to maintain their muscle tone.
It is not clear anymore what the House Republican Caucus even wants to gain from their blatant extortion. First they wanted to defund Obamacare. Then they wanted to delay it for a year. Then they wanted to delay the individual mandate. They wanted to allow a woman's employer to deny contraceptive coverage on her insurance. Then they wanted to play with the insurance plans of Congressional staff. Then they wanted to sit at a table and look at Democrats. And those are just the demands floated to fund a short-term CR through December.
For the upcoming debt ceiling increase, an additional list of far-right demands was made. In late September, the House Republicans put together their debt-limit extortion demands, which include defunding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, gutting EPA rules on coal ash and carbon dioxide, overhauling the tax code, means testing Medicare, and a raft of other long-desired Tea Party ideological goals.
It is asinine for Boehner, Sensenbrenner, and the other House Republicans to be making any ultimatums or demands in order to provide for continuing the US government and maintaining the financial stability of the country. One would hope both goals would be a bipartisan concern for anyone entrusted with public office. It should not be up to the Democrats to cede anything to the Republicans in order to secure a vote to preserve and protect the United States.
Some commentators would have you believe that both sides are at fault here. Nothing could be further from the truth. The House Republican Caucus made a premeditated plan to use the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling to push their radical agenda onto America- an agenda that was roundly rejected in the 2012 elections. What they could not get at the ballot box, they thought they could get in the throes of a manufactured crisis.
Clearly, the President and Senate cannot reward the unpatriotic and damaging behavior of the House Republicans by granting them concessions for their votes. It would be like feeding gulls at the lake. They would never be satisfied. Each time a CR is required, whenever the debt limit must be raised, they would be back for more. That is no way to run a government. Routine blackmail is no way to run the greatest country on earth.
It is not clear how this will end. John Boehner has the power to single-handedly throw our economy into chaos. He has the the power to send the US into the economic second-tier. He has the power to wreck the markets and your 401K. All in the name of denying quality healthcare to 30 million uninsured. All in the name of denying people the ability to readily compare the costs of insurance. All in the name of disallowing insurance to those with preexisting conditions.
Or Boehner has the chance to do the right thing. He can defuse this crisis. He can convince enough of his Caucus to join the Democrats to vote a clean continuing resolution to re-open the entire government. He can convince his Caucus to actually pay the financial obligations that Congress has already incurred. He can convince the world that the US will never renege on our debts.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) put it succinctly, “I think now it’s a lot about pride.” Boehner, Sensenbrenner, and their Caucus started this ridiculous and damaging fight. For the good of the country, they need to swallow their pride and end it now.