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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Republicans in Congress prefer crisis to compromise

Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 8:31 p.m. CDT

It appears that Republicans in Congress would rather shut down the federal government or breach the debt ceiling than make peace with a law that is making health insurance more accessible and fair for the American public.

What a disgrace they are.

Ordinary Americans desperately want to see their elected leaders pull together for the good of the country. Polls show they oppose defunding or dismantling the Affordable Care Act, especially if it means shutting down the government or defaulting on debt.

But Republicans aren’t listening to the American people. They are tuned in to the roar of the tea party, which hysterically portrays the full rollout of Obamacare as the end of the world as we know it, and finds even the pain of a government shutdown to be a preferable alternative.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his minions are wrong about that. A shutdown would be costly and traumatic. The two during President Bill Clinton’s time in office — six days in November 1995 and a second, three-week-long stretch beginning about a month later — cost the American people $1.4 billion. Nearly 300,000 federal workers were furloughed, and almost half a million “essential” employees worked without a paycheck.

GOP members of Congress are callous about the hardship they’ve already imposed on government workers with their misguided sequestration policy. The Republican-controlled House budget keeps sequestration in place, forcing continued pay cuts upon a sizable number of middle-income families.

But elected officials will have a harder time ignoring the effects of a shutdown, which could include stalled benefits for military veterans and delays in processing everything from passports to gun permits.

What could justify such a disruption? In the flawed logic of Republicans, the funding legislation that must be passed by Monday presents the last, best shot to upend Obamacare. Offering more evidence of their distorted view of reality, Cruz and his allies think a shutdown would persuade some Democrats to defund health care reform. Other Republicans hope to delay its implementation.

None of that is going to happen. And funding for the Affordable Care Act would continue in the event of a shutdown. Away from the hysteria in Washington, states, businesses and families are preparing for the Oct. 1 opening of insurance marketplaces that will enable millions of Americans to purchase insurance policies without being penalized for being sick or older or female.

Yes, there will be glitches. And yes, there are fixes to be made in the sprawling health care law. But congressional Republicans aren’t interested in fixes. Their fear is not that Obamacare won’t work; it’s that it will, and Democrats will get the credit for bringing financial and medical security to American families.

After five years of opposing the president’s attempts to transform the nation’s broken health care system, Republicans still have presented no serious proposal for making medical care affordable and accessible to all Americans. Their plan begins and ends with getting rid of Obamacare. What a sad group they represent.

Congress used to be a place where people with deep political and philosophical differences came together and compromised for the good of the nation. Now obstruction for no rational reason is seen as the gold standard of performance.

It isn’t, and it never will be. But Republicans seem prepared to harm the nation before they learn that lesson.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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