How does this grab you?
Paul Ryan, a Republican member of the House of Representatives and candidate for Vice President on the Romney ticket in 2012, voted against Wednesday night’s deal to end the government shutdown. In doing so, he was one of the 144 Republicans in the House who, like the far right of this party, could not support the agreement which finally ended the sixteen day closure of the American federal government one result of which was the furloughing of some 800,000 central government employees whether their jobs were in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere across the country . With the final sanctioning of the deal by the House of Representatives the shutdown ended, the chance of default is terminated and all is good? Well not quite, actually.
The agreement approved on Wednesday by both the Senate and the House is only good until this coming January 21st while the debt ceiling will require another adjustment by February 7th. This means that this whole crisis could play out again in a bare three months.
Back to the Republican Paul Ryan. Eighty-eight Republicans including the G.O.P. leadership voted with every Democrat present and voting to get this much needed legislation through. The thing about Ryan, though, is that he plans to run for President against whomever the Democrats choose to run against him if it comes to that.
Some political observers see the No votes in the following political context: the Republicans who voted No in the House, including Mr. Ryan, were aware that the shutdown was going to be ended. Therefore their No votes were a political statement meant to assuage their constituents, or so they thought, rather than a real vote against the proposed accord, hoping against hope that the proposal, which had already been passed by the Senate, would somehow fail to get the support it needed from the majority of the House.
The hard right, as Obama said, held the country hostage for sixteen days. On the final House vote on Wednesday night a total of eighty-seven Republicans including G.O.P. majority leader John Boehner and the rest of his party’s leadership group voted Yes. If there is another shutdown along with its concomitant threat of financial default by the government, and this is provoked again by Republicans, then the GOP has learnt nothing. The shutdown which ended last night hurt the American people due to the lay-offs it caused among government workers along with the by-products spinning off from this mass furlough. It could have been worse had not the debt ceiling been raised in time for the U.S. government to “pay its bills” on time. Had the national government defaulted on the payment of interest on bonds, for example, this would have led to an overall increase in interest rates across the board from the administration right down to the consumer.
Higher interest rates have a negative impact on borrowing and thus on spending, production and income. When people find that borrowing money has become too expensive they save rather than borrow and spend money. This in turn means that people have less money to spend. Less demand will cause a corresponding decrease in both spending and income. This downward spiral can potentially lead to recession, with its consequent higher unemployment and more difficulty for the average person or family to make ends meet.
As I have already said, Tea Party Republicans held the United States hostage for sixteen days. Using ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) as the so-called whipping boy was a bad choice. Hopefully they have learnt from their mistake and won’t let anything like the shutdown and the danger of default ever happen again. The Republican Party, I believe, has reached an important juncture in its history. It must adapt or be threatened with extinction much like what happened to the Canadian Conservative party which continues to exist in name only after having been co-opted in the period after the 1993 election by the Reform movement headed originally by Preston Manning and now by Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister. That election by the way reduced the once-powerful Conservatives to a measly two seats in the House of Commons. Something similar can and will happen to the Republicans unless they straighten themselves out and fly right.
Have a nice week-end and Shabbat Shalom to my Jewish readers.