Government shutdown. The term sounds so ominous. A temporary end to all government services. How long will it last? What will the impact be on Joe Q. taxpayer?
One thing is clear: The division in Congress has pushed us to the brink of disaster once again.
This is nothing new to Americans, who have now faced four last-minute standoffs that have nearly ended in default or government shutdowns since 2011.
This time the culprit is Obamacare.
The political quarreling began as Republican members of Congress stated that they would agree to an increase in the debt limit in order to avoid a mid-October default only if Democrats agreed to a one-year delay of the health care law, a tax overhaul and a broad rollback of environmental regulations. Over the weekend, the House indeed voted to link further financing of the federal government to a one-year delay of the implementation of Obamacare.
The outspoken champion of this sentiment has been Conservative GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who launched a 21-hour filibuster on the Senate floor in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Before embarking on his one-man marathon, Cruz said, “I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.”
Well, he came close to my record.
Allowing a government shutdown is a terrible disservice to the American people. The economic consequences of not increasing the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit would be devastating. The stock market and bond market, America’s economic underpinnings, would be badly hurt. As a result, America would be viewed as a second-rate economic power. This would present long-term consequences that would be catastrophic to both the extreme right and extreme left of the political spectrum.
Democrats stood strong and rallied against Cruz’s tactics, and have made it very clear that they have no intention of dismantling Obama- care, the president’s top legislative achievement. House Speaker John Boehner has repeated that Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt. Republicans are wary of raising the limit without significant deficit-reduction measures, a very real concern.