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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Too many will be hurt if government defaults

In the spirit of “Profiles in Courage” by the late President John F. Kennedy, someone of political and moral courage must step forward and break the deadlock over the shutdown and impending insolvency of the federal government.
The stakes are too high for the American people if the government defaults on Oct. 17 on paying its debts.
The person apparently in the driver’s seat days after the shutdown began is House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. He has admitted there’s enough Democratic and Republican votes in the Lower Chamber to pass a “clean” bill to fund spending for several weeks, avoiding an impending financial disaster.
But sources indicate he fears losing his leadership role if he cobbles together a measure and sends it to the Democratic-controlled Senate where it will be passed and we temporarily will have dodged a bullet.
In the long run, most Americans will see Boehner as a hero whether they are Democratic, Republican or independents. We also need the example of someone with courage who is willing to sacrifice short-term political gain and stop the foolishness.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a letter to congressional leaders after 800,000 federal workers were told not to report to work Monday that his department is quickly exhausting measures to keep the federal government from breaching the debt limit in less than two weeks.
“There are no other legal and prudent options to extend the nation’s borrowing authority,” beyond Congress raising the borrowing cap, Lew said.
It would only be a short time before liquidity in banks, businesses, the mortgage industry and stock market would dry up, causing havoc no economist can accurately forecast. But worse, many millions of Americans, especially those who are disabled, who depend on federal government programs to survive will be out of cash to buy essentials such as food, keep caregivers or even pay rent.
It just seems nearly insane to put Americans through this type of agony. Even though it is not in our U.S. Constitution, we should have the right to have a “vote of confidence” of our political leaders so that we can replace those who cannot hear our voice of reason. Right now, latest polls show only 10 percent of Americans give House and Senate members a favorable rating.
We should also note there is a viral message in social media about a “proposed 28th Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. Rather than see lawmakers tear the nation apart over The Affordable Care Act, to which they are not even covered but retain their platinum-for-life medical coverage, such an amendment as the following should be considered by lawmakers in the states. It simply says:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply to the citizens of the United States.”
It’s more than time for the 535 members in the House and Senate to quit acting like spoiled brats.

Jerry Wolffe is the Writer-in-Residence/Advocate-at-Large at The Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.