2013-10-03 / Editorial

No gains come from Tea Party games

When President Clinton vetoed the spending plan forwarded to him from the Republican-controlled Congress in November 1995, it didn’t impact me in the slightest.

I was too enamored with a 23-year-old named Drew Bledsoe, a 6-foot-5 gunslinger who was drafted first overall and had a cannon for an arm. That winter I spent countless hours discussing if Bledsoe and the Patriots could string together enough victories to sneak into the playoffs – and no hours deliberating Newt’s stance on Medicare.

I was 13 at the time. Now, nearly 18 years later, the federal government has shut down for the second time in my life. As a newspaper editor with a brother in the military, I’ve paid more attention this go-round.

It’s been said that enacting laws is like a sausage. If that’s the case, then the process of adopting a budget is one, too. You don’t want to see it made. It’s messy. But in the end? Delicious sausage.

That’s Congress’s most fundamental job – make the sausage. But after a Democratic Senate voted down a spending plan by House Republicans for the fourth time, members of Congress left the U.S. Capitol sausageless. The reason? Republicans and their Tea Party movement want to undermine Obamacare.

I’m not going to pretend that I know the reason why lawmakers on the right want to keep Americans uninsured. As much as I’d like to blame both sides in a moderate attempt to say I’m more disappointed than angry, I can’t help but think that House Republicans are laughing behind closed doors. Ask yourself: Does the GOP hate Obamacare?

No, it views the Affordable Care Act as a win for Democrats, not a win for Americans. It’s a partisan issue, not a quality-of-living one. While Republicans think they’re playing the game against the liberals, they’re actually playing games with the livelihoods of nearly 1 million Americans.

Drew Bledsoe played games. Speaker Boehner should not.

With all the turmoil, it’s easy to get bogged down in the hyperbole. It’s important to remember, however, that the sky isn’t falling. This isn’t a new world where anarchists can run free. The shutdown, as it is today, won’t bounce us back into a depression. We won’t have to hunt for squirrels like a scene out of “The Hunger Games.” While it’s true that constitutional law has forced the government to shut itself down, it’s not a complete cessation. The elderly can still walk the mailbox to get their Social Security checks without having to worry about terrorists running rampant.

But the “nonessentials” – the things that make the country great – won’t be there in the morning. You won’t be able to visit the Smithsonian. Have a trip planned? Better get your passport today. Need a free flu vaccination? I wouldn’t ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for one.

Some Republicans are criticizing President Obama for his lackluster attempts to negotiate in regards to the Affordable Care Act. They want a debate. What they are forgetting is that he already did. Twice. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Both times he was elected into office by Americans, by popular vote and the electoral one.

Unlike 1995, I’m paying attention this time. But like 1995, I’m still enamored by a 6-foot-5 gunslinger who was drafted first overall and has a cannon for arm – not Bledsoe, but Peyton Manning. He plays his games at Mile High Stadium in Denver, where games should be played. Unlike Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where one team full of sore losers is playing a game by themselves.

— Tim Riel

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