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EDITORIAL: Tick Tock, Tick Tock

10/2/2013, 3 p.m.
Again, ordinary Americans are made to suffer as this country stumbles into another manufactured crisis.
Furloughed federal employee John Z. stands Oct. 1 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in protest of the government shutdown. "I am standing in silence because the people have been silenced by money and this is a representation of the silent voices," he said. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

The American public has watched the squabbling among those in Congress – supposedly responsible adults – and the avoidable result: a government shutdown.

Again, ordinary Americans are made to suffer as this country stumbles into another manufactured crisis.

While some federal government employees sit at home, furloughed from work, more than a million more will work without pay and the impact of the shutdown will hurt the economy. Most of us are angry and irritated that a problem at least six months in the making was allowed to happen.

People are sick and tired of the pettiness, self-serving behavior and selfishness of some of our elected officials. A recent CNN/ORC poll indicates the level of disdain the public has for Congress. The 10 percent approval and 87 percent disapproval rating is the lowest on record.

At this juncture, there is no indication of how long the government will be shut down.

There’s enough blame to go around but the crux of the problem is disgruntled conservatives and members of the Tea Party still unwilling to accept that the Affordable Care Act, despite potential problems, is the law of the land.

The House Republican Caucus refused to submit a spending bill to the Senate without amendments seeking to eliminate, weaken or dismantle the ACA. They refused to uncouple two separate and distinct issues and to its credit, the Senate refused to yield to what New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Barack Obama and House Majority Leader Harry Reid said amounted to extortion and blackmail.

This is a disgrace. Those responsible for the shutdown should hold their heads in shame, but we know that shame is not a word in their vocabularies. Some Tea Party members and conservative Republicans have been positively gleeful at the shutdown and their power over House Speaker John Boehner and more moderate elements of the party seem absolute.

Boehner is being squeezed by forces out of his control. In his weakened position, he has catered to the extreme faction of his party and has been unable to bring a clean budget bill to the floor for consideration. If he allowed a straight up and down vote, the government wouldn’t have shut down.

Obama said Republicans are demanding ransom just for doing their jobs. And he made it clear in remarks on Monday exactly who’s to blame.

“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election. Keeping the people's government open is not a concession to me. Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you give to the other side. It's our basic responsibility,” he said.

Neither conservative Republicans nor anyone else has the right to hold America and our economy hostage because of differing ideological positions. But it has happened before and will again. A dysfunctional political system is part of the problem, but there are also other issues at work.

It’s clear that the House Republican Caucus is trying desperately to roll back access to insurance for more than 40 million Americans. A part of their concern may be because of their distrust of big government and legitimate concerns about parts of the Affordable Care Act, but there are also indications that the Koch brothers and other secretive ultra-right individuals and groups are financing the effort.

When they ran in 2010, Tea Party candidates promised to shut the government down. They did as promised and will continue to war against fellow House members, the Senate and Obama.

What’s playing itself out is what a portion of the electorate desired: The chickens have come home to roost.