President is right to stand firm
October 3, 2013 7:00PM
ROCKVILLE, MD - OCTOBER 3: President Barack Obama visits M. Luis Construction on October 3, 2013 in Rockville, Maryland. President Obama spoke about the need for Congress to pass a budget. (Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:23AM
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam earlier this week predicted that President Barack Obama is “going to end up negotiating” with Republicans over the government shutdown and the lifting of the federal debt ceiling.
Three days into the shutdown, we don’t see it.
And as long this stunt continues, we trust we never will. When one side threatens to trash the American economy to get its way, there can be no negotiations.
Obama says he will not sit down at the bargaining table until Congress reopens the federal government and allows more federal borrowing.
“It’s actually not very Obama-like to say, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’ ” Roskam, a Republican from Wheaton and member of the House leadership, told CNN on Wednesday.
No, it is not. And we like this very unObama-like Obama.
There is a time to cut deals, something Obama has done and is willing to do again after this Republican-manufactured crisis is averted. But there is also a time to stand firm — something Obama and the Democrats have done quite well so far.
They intend to keep it up even as the nation moves toward Oct. 17, the day when the U.S. Treasury Department says it will run out of money to pay its bills.
As that day approaches, the heat will intensify. On Thursday, a Treasury report laid out the damage to the U.S. economy caused by a near-default in 2011, saying the U.S. could expect the same results or worse if the crisis carries on too long. A default itself could have potentially “catastrophic” impacts.
Later in the day, the U.S. Capitol was locked down after a shooting scare, apparently unrelated to the gridlock, but many in Washington at first understandably feared that tensions had boiled over.
This is not Obama’s crisis to end. It is House Speaker John Boehner’s crisis to end. Boehner and other supposedly moderate Republicans in the House are letting the most extreme wing of their party call the shots.
This fight began with a government shutdown because of a Republican effort to defund Obamacare. But as the clock ticks closer to Oct. 17, Obama also wants a clean resolution of the debt ceiling issue as well. Only then, he says — when the economy is no longer held hostage — will he talk.
On Thursday, Boehner reportedly told colleagues he will move to raise the debt ceiling, even if it means relying on the votes of House Democrats.
That’s an excellent start, and in keeping with past practice for Boehner. But he reportedly remains unwilling to pass a short-term spending bill that leaves the new federal health-care law untouched.
Instead, the House Republicans this week have tried to reverse certain ill effects of the shutdown — the kind of stuff that makes them look like complete ogres, such as shuttering veterans programs, Head Start pre-school programs and museums. The Republicans have proposed funding those programs individually, only to have the Democrats reject such a blatantly self-serving piecemeal approach.
With each passing day, evidence of the harm caused by the shutdown piles up, in 3-year-olds turned away from child care, babies denied formula and small-business loans denied because there’s no one to process them. Is the sky falling? No, just millions of paper cuts, large and small, every day.
Republicans fear losing leverage in their quest to kill Obamacare, change the tax code and reduce entitlement spending if they give in on the government shutdown or the debt ceiling.
But what price will the country pay as they extract blood?
GOP extremists fail to accept that much of their political leverage vanished long ago, starting with the passage of Obamacare, its affirmation by the U.S. Supreme Court and the re-election of President Obama.
No one can fairly accuse Obama of trying to run the country by fiat. The same cannot be said of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.