Letters

Stop the tea party drama in the House

Friday, September 27, 2013

By CAROL SHEA-PORTER

One of the most critical responsibilities of a legislative body is to keep the basic functions of government operating.

Unfortunately, in the next several days, we may see Congressional tea party Republicans force a shutdown of our government. This will happen even though recent polling indicates that almost 60 percent of the population opposes shutting down the government to try to defund health care reform.

The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed both houses of Congress, was signed by President Obama and was upheld by the Supreme Court. Whether you agree or disagree with the law, the thing to do now is to fix the things that need fixing and make sure that we’re improving access to health care while reducing the costs.

Rather than work together, Congressional Republicans are engaging in what Charles Krauthammer refers to as a “suicide mission” to shut down the government even though a shutdown would hurt the economy.

Chamber of Commerce warning

They are ignoring the pleas and warning from groups, such as the National Chamber of Commerce, which said, “It is not in the best interest of the U.S. business community or the American people to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences or raise new policy uncertainties washing over the U.S. economy.”

Forcing the government to shut down due to ideological extremism would stop or delay many vital governmental functions.

Shutdown would hurt employees, military

It would stop pay to all federal employees – including our military – would limit veterans’ access to benefits and prevent new enrollees from getting their Social Security checks.

It would hurt our economy, which is still in recovery.

Shutdown would
increase deficit

All of this nonsense would actually increase the budget deficit.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that repeal of the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare – would only increase the deficit; clearly not a good solution to our budget challenges.

Extremism

This is an irresponsible political ploy. We should be focused on finding common ground instead of holding the government hostage to tea party extremism. Former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg recently wrote that, “Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should. The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree.”

It’s worth noting that this really is the tea party driving this crisis. Most Republicans have acknowledged that they don’t have the votes to defund Obamacare in the Senate and that trying to shut the government down doesn’t make sense. Conservative Republican Sen. Richard Burr, of North Carolina, said shutting the government down over Obamacare was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., does not support the idea of shutting the government down in protest over Obamacare.

The tea party Republicans in the House are obsessed with repeal fever anyway. Last week, they voted for the 42nd time to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act. We haven’t passed a budget or a jobs bill, but we’ve found the time to indulge in 42 futile and unnecessary votes on Obamacare.

Later this week, I’ll return to Washington and we will have less than a week before the government is scheduled to shut down. We don’t have much time left for silly political games. The last thing our economy needs is another shock to its system from a government shutdown.

Instead of having an ideological fight that was settled in the last election, we should be debating jobs bills, improving our education system and making the investments in science and infrastructure that we so desperately need.

We need to reform the tax code so we can promote business growth and employment in the U.S. We have environmental problems to solve, and so many other issues need our attention. I stand ready to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues on finding common ground and getting things moving here in Washington.

Let’s just hope the Republican leadership is willing to ignore the tea party flank and work across the aisle, for the good of Americans everywhere.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter represents New Hampshire’s 1st District.

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