The White House believes there are enough Republican votes in the House to pass a clean spending resolution to reopen the government, raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid a national default. Speaker of the House John Boehner may believe differently, but he should hold the votes nevertheless.
Let’s see if Republicans have the stomach for sending the United States into another economic crisis. Our bet is that there are enough Republicans who understand their responsibility to keep the government and the economy functioning no matter how much they may dislike the Affordable Care Act.
At the very least, Congress needs to pass short-term legislation on both the government shutdown that began last week and the debt ceiling. The White House has signaled it would accept a brief extension in borrowing authority to avoid an unprecedented default. Political observers have also noticed some subtle shifts in the GOP position.
But the fact is that it’s too subtle, as America’s hostage crisis went into its second week thanks to the intransigence of a relatively small group of tea party Republicans over Obamacare. As bad as that is, next week things could get even worse as several Republicans — including Boehner — have already tied raising the nation’s debt ceiling to changes in Obamacare.
Failure to raise the debt ceiling will have severe consequences for the economy. As if to underscore that point, financial markets were weak Monday as prospects for a U.S. default loomed larger. Republicans know full well that the effects of a default would be dramatic and widespread. Stocks likely would fall, and global financial markets would be shaken.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned that the budget brinkmanship was “playing with fire” as he implored Congress to pass legislation to reopen the government and increase the nation’s debt limit.
Yes, the nation needs to deal with its debt, and no, the Affordable Care Act is not the Ten Commandments “written on stone tablets to last forever.” The rollout of Obamacare last week did not go well.
But those concerns are no excuse for making the country a laughingstock.
Congress should act now to reopen the government and to raise the debt ceiling, and then leadership should sit down with the White House and discuss both the debt and any changes to the nation’s first significant health care reform law in decades. President Barack Obama says he’s willing to do that — but not at the point of a gun. He’s right.
Republicans should put down their gun and do what’s best for the American people.Milwaukee Journal Sentinel