Our Opinion: Repercussions from the shutdown
News Tribune editorial
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Repercussions linger from the partial federal government shutdown.
Those repercussions are many, but we will confine our discussion to a few.
First, the shutdown was counter-productive — both for taxpayers and Republican office holders.
An agreement last week avoided economic default and ended the 16-day shutdown, allowing furloughed federal employees to return to their jobs.
Those employees will be paid, which means the debt-encumbered government — and its taxpayers — will pay for more than two weeks of no productivity.
Make no mistake; this is the employer’s fault, not the employees. The workers may be getting the equivalent of a 16-day paid vacation, but they also experienced job insecurity and an interruption in earnings.
Republicans, traditionally fiscal conservatives, ran up the government tab by more than $20 billion and earned nothing. House Speaker John Boehner conceded as much when he said: “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.”
Not only did they fail to win concessions from Democrats to alter or delay President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, polls indicate the GOP also lost popularity.
Perhaps the only positive thing that may be said about the entire episode is the GOP ended the stalemate before the government was pushed into the uncharted waters of default on its debt.
The debt ceiling has been raised, but, once again, government agreed only to a temporary fix, kicking the proverbial can only into early 2014.
When that time comes, will government continue to redraw the line?
Sequester once was unthinkable, but the country now has endured one. Then a government shutdown became inconceivable until we experienced that, too. Will government hold the line against default or will future brinkmanship carry us across that threshold — and at what cost?
The catalyst for much of this divisiveness has been Republican efforts to defund Obama’s health care law.
The GOP’s tactical error is the law may prove to be its own worst enemy. The law’s implementation has been fraught with problems; the potential for fraud and abuse is enormous; and the costs to participants and taxpayers may render it unworkable.
If the Affordable Care Act provides quality health care at an affordable price, its critics simply were wrong.
If it does not, its critics may have been well-intentioned, but didn’t need to impede government operations to prove a point destined to become self-evident.
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