With routine increases in the debt-ceiling commonplace since the Revolutionary War, the U.S. government finds itself unable to function with a small band of GOP extremists sabotaging the U.S. economy. Founding Fathers had no way to anticipate a renegade band throwing a monkey wrench into the wheels of government, just like the Tea Party has done forcing President Barack Obama to delay the Affordable Care Act or he won’t get the $16.7 trillion needed to keep the government running for the foreseeable future. Tea Party zealot Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose failed filibuster to block Obamacare embarrassed the GOP, insists that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Ut.) won’t negotiate in good faith. Cruz knows that the House’s GOP Tea Party caucus seeks any tactic to stop Obamacare. Forcing a government shutdown shows how Washington’s divided government is broken.
Cruz views the House’s demands perfectly reasonable, including delaying Obamacare for one year. White House and Senate officials have stated repeatedly that increasing the debt ceiling can’t be linked to any GOP legislative agenda, especially delaying the Affordable Care Act. House and Senate extremists see nothing wrong with the House muscling concessions from the White House on Obamacare. Regardless to what they think of Obamacare, they’re blind to the inappropriate blackmail that could cost economy billions of dollars, potentially plunging the nation into another recession. If you ask any member of the House or Senate GOP caucus, they believe they have a right to tack onto the funding bill any political agenda, including delaying Obamacare. While there’s still time for 11th-hour heroics, the GOP House seems hell-bent shutting down the government.
Hijacked by the Obama-hating radical fringe in the House, the White House and Senate must seek new rules that prevent a determined minority—on either side of the aisle—from shutting down the U.S. government. Making inappropriate political demands over raising the debt ceiling, the Congress must have rules in place to prevent renegade behavior that damages the U.S. economy. Whatever the opposing party thinks of existing legislation, they can’t be allowed to blackmail their way into concessions. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has lost control over his caucus, allowing first- term Tea Party zealots to rule the day. Tea Party favorite and chief Obama-basher House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Vir.) has whipped GOP freshman into a frenzy, sticking stubbornly to unrealistic demands. Rubber-stamping Cantor’s nonsense has put the nation’s economy into peril.
Listening to Cruz read Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” into the Senate record
Sept. 21 shows the extremes to which the first-term Texan will go to jump to the top of the Tea Party’s list of potential 2016 presidential candidates. Cruz complains that Reid won’t negotiate when the House knows that it’s demands amount to egregious blackmail. Cruz can rant-and-rave about Obamacare but he can’t sabotage the men-and-women of the U.S. military and other debtors to get his way. Shutting down the government—no matter how long—sends the wrong message to the world about the dysfunctional nature of the U.S. government. Apart from this particular debt crisis, the U.S. must fix its current broken state or risk further downgrades from overseas credit-rating agencies. Today’s debt-ceiling debacle shows that political hijacking and sabotage interfere with the government’s business operations.
When S&P downgraded U.S. credit Aug. 5, 2011, there was an extreme backlash to U.S. financial markets. S&P cited Washington gridlock or the failure of divided government to reliably run the nation. Today’s attempt by the GOP-controlled House to blackmail their way into political concessions borders on criminal conduct, knowing the harm done to the economy and U.S. national security. When they take an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” it’s not the arbitrary and capricious use of authority to advance political agendas. “I suspect I will be speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow and the next day,” said Obama, keeping hope alive that something last-ditch can be done to stop a government shutdown. GOP House members must be called out for trying to blackmail their way into political concessions, using the government’s funding as leverage.
Today’s latest episode of Washington gridlock shows dangerous dysfunction in the operation of divided government. Blackmailing the White House and Senate into delaying existing Congressionally approved legislation goes over the top. Each member of Congress takes an oath not to Party but to the nation as a whole. House Republicans have shown flagrant disregard for their responsibility to the national government, whether or not they like or dislike any legislation. While there’s nothing wrong with House members voting their conscience, there’s something very wrong with shutting down the U.S. government to advance a political agenda. Consequences to the economy—and average taxpayers—are just too great to muck around with nation’s purse strings. When the dust settles, the White House and Congress must work on a fix to prevent another catastrophe over the debt-ceiling.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.