Americans’ respect for their Congress has, sad to say, diminished in recent years. But citizens still expect a minimal level of competence and responsibility: Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.
By those minimal standards, this Congress is failing. More specifically, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing.
We don’t come to that view as rabid partisans. We’ve criticized President Obama’s reluctance to pursue entitlement reform. The last time the country reached the debt ceiling, we urged both sides to compromise on revenue and spending in the interest of long-term fiscal soundness.
This time, fiscal responsibility isn’t even a topic. Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. That law, in case you’ve forgotten in the torrent of propaganda, is hardly revolutionary. It is an effort to extend health insurance to some of the 40 million or so people in this country who have none. Republicans tried to block its passage and failed; they hoped to have it declared unconstitutional and failed; and they did their best to toss Obama out of the White House after one term in order to strangle it in its cradle, and they failed again.
They’re entitled to keep trying, of course — though it would be nice if someday they remembered their promise to come up with an alternative proposal.
In a particularly shabby piece of faux populism, their final proposal Monday night included a measure to deprive congressional aides, many of whom earn considerably less than the esteemed members, of the subsidy to purchase health insurance that employers routinely provide.
That measure was emblematic of Republicans’ heedlessness of the impact of their actions on ordinary Americans and their government.
They need to reopen the government and let it pay its bills.
The Washington Post (Oct. 2)