What have House Republicans managed to accomplish in a week of government shutdown?
Damage the livelihood of millions of Americans? Check. Government secretaries, food-truck operators, cleaners who work in motels near national parks: They’re all hurting.
Waste billions of taxpayer dollars? Check. It costs a lot to shut agencies, websites and parks, and it will cost a lot to reopen them. Meanwhile, the House has voted to pay the salaries, eventually, of hundreds of thousands of employees whom it has ordered not to work. That’s an odd way to manage an enterprise.
Rattle the markets, slow an economy in recovery, interrupt potentially lifesaving research at the National Institutes of Health? Check, check and check.
Derail the hated Affordable Care Act? Ch … — oh, no, wait a minute. That was the GOP’s ostensible purpose for this travesty of misgovernment, but the online insurance markets created by that law opened on schedule last week and continue to operate. In fact, the Republicans managed only to distract attention from the computer glitches that would have gobbled up all the news attention if the government weren’t shut.
In a revealing moment Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos replayed a clip from last year in which House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, explained the foolishness of the tactic that he is now, a year later, pursuing. Now he doesn’t know how to get out of the predicament. A shutdown is bad; a default on the debt, which looms days from now, could be catastrophic.
At some point, Obama and the Democrats will have to throw the speaker a lifeline. As tempted as they might be to see the Republicans blamed for economic disaster, giving the Democrats a chance to recapture the House in 2014, the potential damage to the nation is too great — and Americans could end up blaming everyone. A temporary extension of the debt ceiling, a reopening of the government and a commitment to engage in a process that leads to budget and tax reform: The ingredients of a deal are there.
But throwing a lifeline is pointless until the victim realizes he may be drowning. It’s not clear the Republicans have reached that point. The danger is they will take the country down with them.The Washington Post