For the second time in just two years, the Republicans in Congress are prepared to shutdown the government and hurt the American people again. The 2013 shutdown was over the Affordable Care Act and this year’s shutdown will be over an effort to defund Plannet Parenthood. This is approximately the 12th time the Congressional Republicans have threatened to shutdown the government or default on the national debt since they regained control of the House in the 2010 election cycle.
This habit of Congressional Republicans to govern by threatening to sabotage the economy and creating phony crisises began in 2011 when they threatened to default on the national debt. Both Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith were behind this reckless strategy. This debate over whether or not the U.S. would even pay it’s bills resulted in the 2011 Sequester Act which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office cost the economy 1.4 million jobs and caused a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating for the first time in our history.
Just the threat to default itself badly damaged the economy in 2011 and ended a promising economic recovery. Due to the GOP’s irresponsibility, the economy went from creating 200,000 jobs per month to creating only 100,000 jobs per month. The economy only began creating 200,000 jobs per month (or more) in 2013. Moreover, consumer confidence in 2011 fell to depths not seen since the economic crisis of 2008-09.
Despite the serious harm inflicted on the economy by the phony debt ceiling crisis of 2011, the Congressional Republicans shutdown the government for 16 days in 2013. Fischer, Fortenberry and Smith all voted for the government shutdown. Candidate Ben Sasse also supported the shutdown and told the Omaha World Herald that he opposed the legislation that re-opened the government.
The 2013 shutdown was aimed at repealing the ACA , preventing millions of Americans from getting insurance and bringing back pre-existing condition clauses. Like the 2011 default threat, the 2013 shutdown hurt the American people. This ridiculous shutdown cost the economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs.
Despite the failures of those past attempts to hold the American people hostage in 2011 and 2013, the GOP wants to do it all over again this month. There are only 6 legislative days left for the Congress to do the right thing and fund the government. Moreover, the debt ceiling must be raised again at the end of October. (Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t authorize new spending. Instead the Congress is paying for spending it has already authorized. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling would be like buying a car and refusing to pay for the loan.)
The only member of the Nebraska delegation who has shown any leadership on this issue is Representative Brad Ashford. Nebraska’s House member from CD-02 has called for the Congress to end it’s undeserved vacation and return to Washington to fund the government. Moreover, Ashford has pledged to give up his paycheck in the event of another shutdown.
At the time of the writing of this article, we’ve heard nothing from Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry and Smith regarding the government shutdown. We’ve heard nothing from them because they supported the last shutdown and can be counted on by the most extreme members of the GOP caucus to support another one.
The really tragic thing about the latest sabotage threat from the GOP is that 2015 was supposed to be the “first time in four years that the federal government is actually boosting economic growth, rather than detracting from it,” according to an analysis by Macroeconomic Advisers. If the government isn’t funded and/or the U.S. stiffs it’s creditors, the U.S. could be headed back into recession, the report found. “A government shutdown would be one of the most ludicrous and self-inflicted wounds that I can imagine,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in an interview, adding that lawmakers are “forming another circular firing squad.”
All Nebraskans should call on Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry and Smith to join Representative Ashford in his pledge to go back to Washington to stop a destructive shutdown. I would urge all of you to flood their offices with phone calls, letters and emails. The continued prosperity of our country may depend upon those efforts. Thank you for everything that you do.