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News & Observer - (Editorial) GOP Surrenders After a Pointless, But Costly Standoff

October 17, 2013
In The News

This time, Ted Cruz, the wildly unpredictable radical Republican tea party U.S. senator from Texas, didn’t read Dr. Seuss on the floor of the Senate, as he did in a recent filibuster. Oh, he voted against the deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and to reopen the federal government, but he knew that to obstruct the business of Congress this time would get him a new office in the basement and a seat in the Senate chamber on a back bench under some air ducts.

A deal was done Wednesday, late into the evening, after Republican leaders, having witnessed the GOP dropping somewhere beneath chicken pox in popularity polls, knew they had no alternative. But in the preceding weeks, they’d taken the country dangerously close to the cliff in an effort to destroy President Obama’s health care reform plan, an issue that should have been entirely unrelated to the debt ceiling. To try to get their way, Republicans in effect shut down the federal government, something they did in the mid-1990s in a confrontation with President Bill Clinton.

The cost to the country, from closed national parks to idle workers to shuttered businesses dependant on government workers, has been tremendous.

The GOP must not be much on history: Clinton during the previous shutdown watched Republicans dive in the polls as his own popularity soared. The same trend has been happening for Obama.
Several members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation distinguished themselves, and some did not. Republicans who voted in favor of the debt limit/government reopening deal chose practical statesmanship over petulant and dangerous partisanship.

David Price, veteran Democratic representative of the 4th District, had it right: “This manufactured crisis was unnecessary, reckless and irresponsible.”

To his credit, Republican Sen. Richard Burr voted to end the crisis along with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

It’s important that North Carolinians understand what a “no” vote meant. It meant that the member of Congress so voting was intending to keep the federal government closed, which meant cutting services to people in serious need, sick people and poor children (it happened in North Carolina), and eventually would have worked its way into the delivery of Medicare and Social Security.

Far more dangerously, the members of the North Carolina congressional delegation who voted against the deal, including in this area Republicans George Holding of the 13th District and Renee Ellmers of the 2nd District, were voting to push the United States off that cliff with which they flirted. Had the nation defaulted on its debt, markets would likely have crashed, and every single person in the United States with a 401K retirement account and others with savings to some degree in even “safe” investment accounts would have suffered. Their futures would have been put in jeopardy.

And yet, tea party Republicans were willing to take that chance with everyone’s country, just to make a point about their hatred of government and their passionate hatred of the man at the top of it, President Obama.

This has been a dark, disturbing episode in modern American history, a time when many of the very people who are supposed to protect our life and liberty and safety and security, the people who represent us in Congress, seemingly cared more about selfish partisanship than they did about the security of their country. The “no” voters shirked their duty in a shameful fashion.