As usual, a majority of Americans have got it right. In the latest polls, 66 percent said House Republicans had put their own agenda ahead of the national interest. Only 21 percent had a favorable impression of the tea party, and 24 percent for the GOP as a whole. Nearly 80 percent said the United States had taken a bad turn, making the economy worse.
Unfortunately, this anger over the suffering inflicted on millions of Americans won’t change much in Washington, D.C.
First of all, even though most Americans blame the Republicans for the partial government shutdown, they will retain control of the U.S. House in next year’s midterm elections. Blame it on partisan gerrymandering or strong ideological divisions, but the tea party members of the GOP are sitting on safe seats.
Nationally, Democrats get more votes for House seats than Republicans. They increased their vote total by 8 percent in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Still, in that period they have gained only eight of the 435 congressional seats.
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Second, Congress is immune to the economic damage it has caused. Thanks to the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress continue to collect paychecks.
Unable to defeat the Affordable Care Act by legislative or electoral means, Republicans have chosen to punish people who had no choice in the matter. Well, that’s not entirely true. The American people did re-elect President Barack Obama.
So while American families suffer layoffs and interruption of services, self-absorbed Republicans and their families feel no effect whatsoever. Eliminating congressional pay might give some House members a glimpse of reality.
We’re now about 48 hours from a cataclysmic default. We hope enough Republicans in the few swing districts that exist join Democrats in reopening the government and avoiding a default. Only then can meaningful negotiations take place.