Even by their low standards, House Republicans are acting in an embarrassingly reckless manner, and the entire nation looks like it is about to suffer as a result.
Tea Party conservatives have demanded that the Affordable Care Act must be delayed or defunded in order to keep the government operational through the end of the fiscal year.
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats rejected the idea, stripping the GOP’s measure out of the continuing resolution and saying that keeping the government functioning should not be beholden to a futile ideological battle. But Republican leaders threw a similar measure back into the resolution when it returned to the House, all but ensuring no deal to keep the government functioning will be reached by Tuesday.
As these “negotiations” on the continuing resolution and the looming debt ceiling crisis have unfolded over the past several days, the GOP has more than lived up to its reputation as an obstructionist party. It has revealed itself as a party bent solely on ideological warfare.
Objecting to anything Obama, the Democrats or anyone to the left of what Ted Cruz stands for is the one and only goal of the modern Republican Party. While that might fire up Tea Party activists, it leaves the country in the dust as it continues to slowly crawl its way back from the Great Recession.
Make no mistake: A government shutdown would put a significant damper on the already sluggish economic recovery. Thousands of federal workers would be put on furlough. Small businesses looking to take out loans from the government would not be able to.
Military personnel would go without pay. The EPA would effectively close. Veterans would not receive benefits should a shutdown be prolonged. Even college students might not be able to receive financial aid if a shutdown lasts for a long period.
That’s OK, though, in the eyes of the GOP.
A responsible party that respects the basic constitutional idea of compromise would drop the Obamacare demand. A responsible party would propose legislation to amend or replace Obamacare and attempt to get said legislation passed. A responsible party, if it was that eager to get Obamacare off the books, would work to elect a president and enough members of its party to Congress to do just that, realizing that elections have consequences and accepting the results.
The GOP is no responsible party, though. This is a party that exists solely to create chaos in Washington in some petty attempt to rile up ideologues and make Obama look bad, even if that means terrible things for this country.
Amazingly enough, it could get much, much worse.
House Republicans, in yet another attempt to prove an ideological point and pretend the 2012 presidential election never happened, appear willing and eager to let the United States go through its debt ceiling.
Not raising the ceiling would likely ensure global economic catastrophe as U.S. Treasury bonds, considered the safest thing to own in the financial world, default, leaving investors out in the cold and potentially throwing the global financial system off its axis.
The GOP is so far gone, though, that default might be for the best. It would be incredibly painful, but having the GOP reap the seeds they have sewn might be the only way to prevent these faux-crises from occurring every few weeks for the next three and a half years. Especially if voters send a strong message, the GOP might finally come back down to Earth and act responsibly.
We can only hope.