Lawmakers let the federal government shut down last night, and it’s not really a surprise.
Partisan ideology once again caused political gridlock in Washington, D.C. Congressional Republicans reaffirmed that their opposition to Obamacare is more important than the overall health of our nation.
Sound like a familiar story? It should.
Congress can’t seem to agree on anything, but if lawmakers do not approve a spending bill soon, then there will be painful repercussions for the American public. Patrick McLean, director of Albion College’s Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, specialized in budget issues while working for the city of Toledo, Ohio. He says the shutdown will have both immediate and long-term consequences.
“Those most directly affected are people who work for the federal government or who are seeking government services like a passport, a federally backed loan, a social security card or a federal tax refund,” McLean said.
Those services have been put on hold. An estimated 800,000 to 1 million federal employees are furloughed. Active military and those who fill “essential” positions continue to work, potentially without pay.
“The economy as a whole, and that means all of us, will be impacted by reduced economic activity,” McLean said. “The longer a shutdown lasts, the greater the negative consequences will be for economic growth.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Congress continue to receive their checks.
The cause of the federal government’s 18th shutdown? More of the same from Republican lawmakers.
House Republicans have spent months voting to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. Each time, this action has been blocked by Democrats in the Senate.
It does not faze Obamacare opponents that the law has legitimacy – it was passed by Congress, and then upheld by the Supreme Court. What started as a symbol of Republican opposition to healthcare reform now represents how their partisanship continues to undermine effective government.
The irony of the situation is that Obamacare continues to go into effect anyway, despite the government shutdown. It’s time for Republicans to end this political standoff. The Democrats have check-mate.
We need lawmakers to focus on extending the federal budget. Republicans cannot stop healthcare reform, so their insistence on eliminating the law is pointless. This demonstration of conservative ideology isn’t worth the negative consequences of the shutdown. At what point does funding our government take precedence?
Lawmakers don’t need to hold our nation hostage to keep Obamacare in the spotlight. The law will remain controversial no matter what. As Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) points out, problems with the law can be resolved independently of the spending bill.
“I fully support that [debate], but let’s sit down in a bipartisan and calm way, not with the prospect of shutting down the government or shutting down the economy,” Durbin said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Is there an end in sight? There are rumblings that moderate House Republicans will break from their Tea Party counterparts and support a spending bill that includes funding for Obamacare. The move would be a tremendous act of good faith.
Republican lawmakers have a right to oppose the law, but more importantly they need to respect the democratic process. The best way to eliminate Obamacare is to get majorities elected in both chambers of Congress and repeal the law legitimately.
The bottom line is that Congress must extend the federal budget as soon as possible. Even Democrats and Republicans can agree that America cannot afford an extended government shutdown.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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