House Republicans on Saturday added a new demand to a bill that would continue funding the U.S. government. They want the Senate to approve a one-year delay in President Obamas health care law and repeal a medical device tax that will help pay for the law.
Democrats who control the Senate wont give them that and they shouldnt. But if the GOP insists on it and no funding agreement is reached, the government will shut down at midnight Monday.
So the people of the United States wait again for tea party Republicans to stop playing this maddening and destructive game.
It should stop Monday. The time for bluffing and feinting is over. Republicans whose intransigence has created a do-nothing Congress must at last do something. They must give up their demand and let the government pay its bills.
A call for reason
President Obama, at last out of patience with the right-wing House Republicans peevish games, has given up any notion of negotiating with them. They are unreasonable. Their demands are unreasonable. And trying to work things out with them is unreasonable.
Still, the president couldnt resist pointing out Friday the absurdity of the House Republicans position. Do not threaten to burn the house down just because you havent gotten 100 percent of your way, he said.
That caution wasnt much help. The Republicans burned down the House a long time ago, somewhere between the 10th and the 40th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Whats left of the lower chamber is a smoldering ruin of resentment, bile and recklessness.
Only a redrawing of congressional districts and another presidential ticket led by an unappealing Republican candidate will bring enough change. Only an infusion of new members who feel they must be responsive to moderate voters will restore the House as a place of serious debate and mutual effort to address the nations problems.
For now, the nation is left with a House majority that wants to make trouble, not fix it. And on the funding issue the diehards want Speaker John Boehner to take the most destructive course: a government shutdown and a slide toward the United States defaulting on its debts, an event that would upset the global economy and could throw the U.S. economy back into recession.
Something bad enough
Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolinas 8th District, is one of the members urging the House leadership to drive a hard bargain with the Senate.
I think the question is, do we go with the carrot or the stick strategy? Hudson said. Do we try to do something bad enough to force (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid to negotiate with us, or do we do something that we think he cant refuse?
Do something bad enough isnt the language of real leaders, real patriots or even real adults. How about doing something good enough? How about doing whats best for the United States and its people?
Hope for a solution
Perhaps this showdown over a shutdown will end with a welcome letdown. The crisis my be averted. A basic funding bill could pass and the U.S. government would remain open, although still limited by the pointless and punitive sequester.
Its in the Republicans hands. The nation hopes theyll choose to let the governments work and services go on and let the economy continue its slow but steady recovery. Enough damage has been done. Now is time to do the right thing. Keep the U.S. government running.
Holding out wont help Republicans and it will hurt the nation. And theres one thing it wont do stop Obamacare.