Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Washington Post Editorial Blaming GOP For Shutdown Gets It Almost All Right

There is a very strongly worded Washington Post editorial on the government shutdown in the today's edition. Some excerpts:

...Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. That law, in case you've forgotten in the torrent of propaganda, is hardly revolutionary. It is an effort to extend health insurance to some of the 40 million or so people in this country who have none. It acts through the existing private-insurance market. Republicans tried to block its passage and failed; they hoped to have it declared unconstitutional and failed; and they did their best to toss Mr. Obama out of the White House after one term in order to strangle it in its cradle, and they failed again.
They’re entitled to keep trying, of course — though it would be nice if someday they remembered their promise to come up with an alternative proposal. But their methods now are beyond the pale.
After months of refusing to confer with the Senate on a budget proposal, they have demanded a conference committee to keep the government funded for six weeks. They are rejecting a budget extension that includes limits on federal spending — the so-called sequester — that they insisted on and that Democrats oppose. In a particularly shabby piece of faux populism, their final proposal Monday night included a measure todeprive congressional aides, many of whom earn considerably less than the esteemed members, of the subsidy to purchase health insurance that employers routinely provide.

All fine words, indeed, and much overdue. Unfortunately, one of the reasons we have gotten to this point, and one of the reasons we face an even worse crisis over the debt ceiling two weeks from now is this item, mentioned earlier in their editorial:

We don’t come to that view as rabid partisans. On many of the issues stalemating Washington, we find plenty of blame to go around. We’ve criticized President Obama’s reluctance to pursue entitlement reform. The last time the country reached the debt ceiling, we urged both sides to compromise on revenue and spending in the interest of long-term fiscal soundness.
Ah, do we see the problem here? Two years ago the GOP orchestrated a similar hostage-taking maneuver over the debt ceiling, which was emboldened by many in the media. It's no wonder that the 2013 version of the GOP feels equally emboldened in regard to sacrificing the budget in their efforts to delay, defund, or obstruct in any way they can the implementation of Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. Now, it's quite possible they would have done this anyway, this year, even if the 2011 debt-ceiling hostage taking hadn't taken place. But there's no doubt that the GOP's success that year in extracting concessions, such as the budget-busting sequester, has emboldened them this year and for when the debt ceiling comes up again in two weeks.

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