In D.C., foreign visitors wonder what's happened to us

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While there’s no doubt that the Republican Party is getting the lion’s share of the blame, the Democrats have done their share of stupid things. In state government, where I spent over 20 years, a simple majority was all that was required to pass laws. In Washington, Senate Democrats have decided that in certain cases, there is a requirement of 60 votes to cut off debate. That 60-vote rule has contributed to the gridlock, and gives the Senate minority more power than it deserves.

The government shutdown caused the country to suffer billions of dollars in losses, both in the financial markets and in the business community. The U.S. is being forced to pay hundreds of millions more in interest charges, and businesses of all sizes have suffered mightily from the federal craziness. Any sane business people who want to expand their facilities have to think twice about whether such a move is practical.

It’s hard to believe that one political party can be so fractured, but the Republicans in Washington are now a splintered party, with no immediate hope that things will get better. Keep in mind that when the resolution to reopen the government was passed, more than 100 Republican members of the House voted against it. They knew that the damage to the nation would be mind-boggling, but they were determined to keep the government in lockdown under the false hope that President Obama would delay his signature health care plan.

Perhaps cooler heads will prevail when Congress returns, but we may face another shutdown soon, and the losers will be the American people more than the failed politicians.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?

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