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Childish politics on the budget debate

Time is running out for Congress and the White House to agree on a budget policy or the government will surpass the debt limit and shutdown. It’s Déjà vu all over again, but with a distasteful additive.  Representative Ted Cruz is leading the Republican charge to advance budget policy but defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare unofficially; and Cruz with his Tea Party allies are willing to shut down the government if the ACA is not defunded.  Never mind that such a ‘symbolic’ bill will inevitably fail in the Democratic controlled Senate, the course of action taken by Cruz and the Tea Party are destructive and disturbing for several reasons.

For Republicans, this is a sum zero political play. For one, 80% of Americans do not want a government shutdown for any reason. Second, 60% of independents say that Republicans are not trying to compromise which will negatively trade off with 2014 election prospects in swing states considering that ACA is popular and defunding via shutdown is quite unpopular. Third, 80% of Americans believe that threatening a government shutdown during budget issues is not acceptable for negotiations. Fourth, 61% of Americans and 51% of Republicans want the government to stay open rather than risking default or defunding the ACA; plus more Americans would blame Republicans for the shutdown. There is nothing that Republicans or Tea Party can hope to achieve with these tactics, Karl Rove said that, “…any strategy to repeal, delay or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.The defunding strategy doesn’t. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it.” Defunding and stalling tactics will only alienate Independents and most Americans and give Democrats a boost in the 2014 election.  For once Rove is a voice of reason; no matter where or how you look at the situation Democrats have the upper hand.

But what if the shutdown happens? All of the current policy problems and complications or lackluster stances by the administration are hurled to the wayside as Republicans storm into the limelight by doing what no sane politician would do. If and when the government shuts down, House Republicans will move to the top of the ‘least liked’ Americans. The party of ‘no’ will lose its political clout and legitimacy by squandering their political capital on a futile symbolic vote.  Furthermore, most Republicans do not want to even commit to a shutdown; in the given case that the government does shut down it is pretty likely that most GOP members will jump ship to join the Democrats in ending the shutdown in the hope that the Tea Party members get the bulk of hostilities.

The obstructionism of the Republican party is distasteful, but the threat of sacrificing US credit rating and economy to prove a point or to get what you want is disgusting.  Raising the debt ceiling is not a political trade off; keeping the US strong is Congress’s duty and threatening Democrats to let the system burn down unless you get what you want is childish politics.  Republicans need to reassert control and propose a clear resolution to raise the debt ceiling, meaning that the resolution is just that, no attachments or amendments. The ACA was passed through normal means, Republicans and Teabaggers need to stop being children and do their jobs by preventing the system from imploding.

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