It is now time for moderates in the Republican Party and more sensible conservatives to speak up and urge congressional Republicans to end their government shutdown rather than continuing to block federal spending to battle the 3-year-old Affordable Care Act.

Last week congressional Republicans forced a shutdown of the federal government that was avoidable.

While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans try to put the blame on President Barack Obama, the fault lies squarely with their caving to the demands of extremists in their party.

The shutdown could have been avoided if Boehner simply brought up for a vote a bill to finance the full reopening of the government without conditions.

If Boehner ended his demands to delay the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare and instead put the routine budget funding of the government to a simple yes-or-no vote it would pass, as it did in the Senate.

But he has not let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he does not want to anger the Tea Party extremist element in the GOP.

Boehner knows full well that the president cannot give in to his reckless demands to delay the implementation of his signature health-care law and deny health insurance to millions of Americans. House Republicans cannot use a government shutdown as another chance to dismantle a law that was decided on in the last presidential election and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The health-care law itself was unaffected by the shutdown, as enrollment opened last Tuesday for millions of people shopping for medical insurance.

The White House has said it was open to changes in the law in future negotiations, but not as part of passing a budget bill. White House officials are right to compare Republican demands to negotiating with “a gun pointed to your head.”

On Friday, once again the Republican-led House continued its futile drive to finance certain agencies and programs on a piecemeal basis.

This is unacceptable.

The longer the shutdown continues the more it will hurt the economy and hundreds of thousands of people who don’t know when their next paycheck will come. The shutdown has forced the furlough of some 800,000 workers, more than a third of federal civilian employees. Millions of Americans are at risk of losing benefits.

It is time for more reasonable moderates and realistic conservatives in the Republican Party to stop their fellow party members from using a government shutdown to wage an ideological crusade against the new health care law.

Moderates should not only demand a reopening of the government by passing a budget without conditions, but should also insist that Republicans in the House raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling that the government expects to hit Oct. 17.

The failure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit would be a disaster for the still-fragile economy.

A default could cause the nation’s credit markets to freeze, the value of the dollar to plummet and U.S. interest rates to skyrocket, according to a Treasury Department report.

It is time for House Republicans to end their dangerous political game.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)



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