Cmon, Congress: Do whats right for the country

With the federal government shutdown in its second week, and with a looming threat of federal default set to hit Thursday, Oct. 17, madness has swept the halls of Congress, infected the body politic and caused grave damage, with potentially much worse to come.

Already the shutdown has inflicted horrible pain on the country. Veteran benefits unpaid. Meat, produce, milk and water inspections scrapped. CDC monitoring of diseases sidelined. Cancer drug trials suspended. More than 500,000 federal workers furloughed, wondering how they’re going to be able to purchase needed items and pay their bills.

If House Republicans — or, to be precise, the Tea Party caucus driving this crisis — block a raise of the debt limit next week, experts from across the ideological spectrum predict an economic calamity like none we have seen.

Why are they doing it? It depends what day you ask them. Yesterday it was to delay or dismantle Obamacare. Today it’s to rein in federal spending. Or maybe it’s because of “pride,” as Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) admitted last weekend.

Or perhaps, as Rep. Marvin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told the Washington Examiner, it’s because Republicans “have to get something out of this, and I don’t know what that even is.”

This newspaper is nonpartisan, and always has been. We fervently believe in the two-party system, which, for all its faults, has fueled American political stability for more than a century.

But there is no question about who shoulders the blame for this crisis. The Tea Party supporters, who represent a minority of House Republicans, provoked this fight, cowed Speaker of the House John Boehner, and now refuse to take their collective foot off the gas pedal as they steer America off a cliff.

President Obama is right to refuse negotiating under this kind of threat.

This is not about liberal vs. conservative. This is simply not how we do things. We do not re-fight the results of an election, or attempt to strike down a law by shutting down the government or threatening to blow up the economy.

The House Tea Party caucus, which district by district represents less than a fifth of the American people, deserves to be punished at the ballot box for its behavior, which borders on treasonous. And we urge the Republican Party to rein in this extremist element, for its own good and the good of the country.

We demand that the House immediately vote on “clean” government funding and debt ceiling bills. Both would pass easily, and this crisis would be over. Today.