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Editorial: Prevent a government shutdown

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | DECEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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The relationship between President Obama and congressional Republicans has been tense following Obama’s announcement of an emissions accord with China as well as a planned move on immigration policy through an executive order. Standing to gain majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Republicans find themselves in a precarious position with the deadline for government shutdown on Dec. 11 looming over them. The GOP will soon have the opportunity to shift public perception of the party that was largely blamed for the government shutdown last year.

Congress is rapidly approaching a crossroads. A choice must be made between making a move to retaliate against Obama’s use of execution action on immigration, which may result in a shutdown of the government, or delaying the confrontation with the president until the party is in a more advantageous position to achieve its goal. House Speaker John Boehner has worked to find an alternative to the imminent shutdown. His plan entails curtailing the amount of money that would be given to the Department of Homeland Security in the appropriations bill that must be passed to keep the government funded and functional. By separating the funding for Homeland Security from the funding for the rest of the federal government, Boehner would be able to withhold the resources necessary to implement Obama’s executive action.

Even though some Republicans have voiced support for this action, there is still reluctance to abandon the threat of forcing a government shutdown. Boehner is aware that this is a time in which the heated emotions of his party must take a back seat to the well-being of the nation and that playing the game strategically increases the probability of both a win for Republican policy and public approval. If anything, both parties should have learned that the well-being of the country should not be used as leverage to forward or thwart a political agenda. Last year’s federal government shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1 through 16, resulted in the unpaid furlough of 800,000 government employees. Standard and Poor’s rating agency estimated the shutdown cost the United States $24 billion in lost economic output.

The purpose of political parties is in part to ensure that all members of the population receive representation, but party polarization has caused our representatives to stray from this ideal.

Instead, we find politicians care more about garnering approval from their party’s extreme base or zealously pushing their own agendas as opposed to advocating for the benefit of their constituency and the nation as a whole.

Boehner is making a step in the right direction with his willingness to forgo the immediate satisfaction of countering Obama’s actions, especially when such a response could carry the disastrous potential of a government shutdown. Total bipartisanship may not be possible in the immediate future, but an increased focus on running the country instead of merely scoring points against the opposing team will go a long way in bolstering the strength of the nation. Even if Congress is not in agreement with Obama’s actions, what is best for the general population should transcend party lines and political ideology.


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