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EDITORIAL: GOP Hasn't Learned the Shutdown Lessons

10/23/2013, 3 p.m.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican (Courtesy of cruz.senate.gov)

Numbers don’t lie. Here are just a few that emerge from the Do-Nothing Congress’s latest actions: A 16-day partial government shutdown of the federal government. At least $24 billion of America’s gross domestic product has evaporated because of the shutdown.

An approval rating in the low single digits which is the lowest approval rating polling numbers ever for Republicans because of behavior that’s earned the scorn and opprobrium of much of the American public.

The American public, particularly federal workers had to endure the pain and uncertainty of the shutdown and after the GOP gambit failed, these misguided politicians of the Republican Party were forced to agree to the same deal they rejected in the days and weeks leading up to Oct. 1.

Yet we’re told that House Speaker John Boehner and his Texas Senate colleague Ted Cruz received applause and ovations, first because of his “principled stand” during the shutdown and the second in Texas when Cruz met adoring constituents during this most recent recess.

Some polls and analysts have attempted throughout the shutdown to apportion blame to both political parties and to President Barack Obama equally, which is nonsense.

The fault of the shutdown lies at the feet of Boehner, Cruz, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and the few dozen extreme right-wing members of the House Republican Caucus who schemed to shutdown the government as a way to derail the Affordable Care Act.

This brazen and shameless posse seems intent on doing all they can to kill Obama’s signature piece of legislation which as Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats illustrated throughout the debacle wasn’t going to happen.

Dysfunction doesn’t begin to describe what Americans are faced with politically. Every year since Obama decisively won election in 2008, the country has staggered from crisis to crisis as some in the Republican Party, especially the Tea Party, seek to hold all of us hostage in an effort to force the Obama administration to cut federal spending and reduce the size of government. Obama agreed to about $900 billion in cuts to social welfare and other programs in order to get a deal, then he agreed to a punishing set of across-the-board cuts called the sequester and even then, the Republicans continue to call for deeper cuts to programs that assist and support children, the faltering middle class, and the poor. Remaining untouched are the rich and ultra-wealthy who have Republicans primarily, stumbling over each other to legislate more tax cuts for those most able to afford it.

What we have are sore losers, who like spoiled children in the sandbox want to take their toys and go home. The conservative section of the GOP says as stridently as it can, that these are policy differences, ideological in nature, but the tone and tenor of the debates and the thinly veiled racial remarks and actions suggest other elements at play.

Moderates like Rep. Peter King fought publicly and behind closed doors to steer his party away from the cliff, but Boehner seemed more intent on holding on to his job as speaker than taking the commonsense step of allowing the lower chamber to vote for a spending bill not laden with provisions dreamed up by conservatives.

Despite the political beating the party took over the shutdown, Cruz and others say they will do it all again and indicate that there are plans to continue playing this dangerous game in an effort to gain political ascendency.

The old adage says “Insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.”

They say they act in the public interest but which public?