Small businesses from Thurston County to Washington, D.C., are starting to feel the ill effects of the week-old partial government shutdown. Boeing, one of our state’s top employers, warns of furloughs if the stalemate continues. The U.S. Treasury Department says failure to raise the debt limit before next Thursday’s deadline could trigger a worse economic crisis than the Great Recession of 2008.
All of this, because House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want to lose his job or his status within the Republican Party.
A growing list of political insiders are convinced that at least 20 moderate Republicans would join 195 Democrats in voting for a so-called “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government at previously agreed to levels without any stipulations about the Affordable Care Act.
Whip counts by The Washington Post, NBC News and others over the weekend confirmed there are enough votes to end the shutdown.
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But Boehner refuses to allow a clean bill to come to the House floor. Why? Because tea-party extremists control a majority within the Republican Party. If Boehner agreed to a vote, the tea party would revolt and kick him out.
The United States is being held hostage because one man lacks the principled leadership to stand up to extremists. Millions of Americans are suffering because Boehner likes his job as House speaker.
A genuine leader would do what is right for America. He would go against his party, regardless of the personal consequences, and let the people’s representatives decide this issue with a democratic vote.
This impasse ostensibly began over defunding the Affordable Care Act. It’s something the GOP couldn’t achieve through the democratic process. Americans passed on an opportunity last year to elect Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had promised to kill Obamacare on his first day in office.
Having failed to achieve their ideological objectives through both the legislative and electoral processes, tea-party Republicans backed themselves into a government shutdown.
Once they realized Democrats would stand with the president in defending Obamacare, the conversation shifted to reducing government spending and controlling the national debt. That’s a conversation worth having.
Both chambers of Congress passed long-term budgets earlier this year. The next step was to hold the traditional joint conferences where members of Congress sit down together and reconcile the two versions. But that entails compromise, a concept foreign to tea-party Republicans, so it hasn’t happened.
America must not be governed by extortionists. We urge Congress and the president to schedule serious conversations about our debt problem, but those cannot occur while sitting on the precipice of an economic disaster.