President Barack Obama expressed outrage earlier this week over the continued standoff and inaction in Congress over increasing the federal government’s debt ceiling to avert a government shutdown and economic chaos.
“In case there’s any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its [debt] obligations; I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States,” Obama said in remarks in the nation’s capital shortly after the mass killings at the Navy Yard there. “Let’s stop the threats, stop the political posturing.”
The president’s outrage — and that of most congressional Democrats, some clear-thinking Republicans and a majority of level-headed Americans — is absolutely justified.
The political gamesmanship spearheaded by Grand Old Party extremists has produced no winners — only an embarrassing do-nothing loser of a Congress that has brought the stability of government operations and the slow but steady recovery of the U.S. economy to the doorstep of disaster.
FLASHBACK TO 2011
Recalcitrant Republicans ought to look back just two years ago, when the same misguided high jinx ruled the day and the halls of Congress. All but the most stubborn members of Congress then knew they were going to have to raise the debt ceiling or the credit worthiness of the United States and the stability of its economy would take an enormous hit. But calamity be damned, they put off acting long enough for the nation’s credit rating to be downgraded anyway. Additionally, the Dow Jones Industrial Average — the most commonly used barometer of U.S. economic health — plunged an appalling 635 points in one day.
The nation and its economy can ill afford a rerun of that tragedy.
Some Republicans today are threatening to hold up raising the debt ceiling and passing a federal budget if elements of the Affordable Care Act are funded as a part of it. Obama said Republicans are effectively holding the government hostage by threatening to defund his signature health-care reform victory.
Rational Republicans should check in to reality and recognize that the Affordable Care Act has absolutely no chance of repeal under the current congressional makeup. Dozens of time-wasting votes to undercut it have failed. The Supreme Court has ruled the law constitutional. And the re-election of Obama last year served as a popular referendum on keeping intact the controversial act.
The president rightly scolded the right wing of the Republican Party in his plea earlier this week: “I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos when it doesn’t get everything it wants.”
Nor can we. Wasting congressional time on meaningless Obamacare antics does nothing toward taking care of the nation’s pressing business. Little is more pressing now than ensuring government solvency. The ripple effects from congressional inaction on the budget and debt ceiling would trickle down to communities large and small and invite a return to the disastrous recessionary times out of which we are finally beginning to climb.