False Equivalence Must Not Inform an End to the Shutdown

I’m seeing a lot of dangerous chatter about how “Congress” can’t get its act together and should therefore forego its pay until today’s government shutdown is over. Make no mistake: This is a one-sided problem in which House Republicans are following the Tea Party in risking severe economic damage to the US because they refuse to accept that the Affordable Care Act was passed into law, upheld by the Supreme Court, and legitimized in the subsequent election.

The reason BipartisanThink (coined by Matt Yglesias) is so dangerous is that pressure applied generically to Congress will affect reasonable congressmembers far before it affects unreasonable ones. Those following the Tea Party’s lead fall into the latter group. House Republicans now have a well-established pattern of threatening the national welfare in order to get their way. If the logic of BipartisanThink holds, then Democrats will bend to the Tea Party’s unreasonable, undemocratic demands to get the government “functioning” again. The resulting lesson for the Tea Party is to continue threatening the whole lot of us since, having lost the 2012 election, it’s the only way to get what they want.

And threaten national welfare is exactly what the Tea Party has every intention of continuing to do. Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, for example, threatens to refuse to pay bills lawfully incurred by the United States, thereby threatening its full faith and credit on top of the shutdown if the Affordable Care Act is implemented in accordance with the Constitution and majority opinion:

The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and Obama has pointed out that he won re-election after signing the law.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas cautioned Obama and Reid that, “the debt ceiling is the law as well, and unless you want that shoved in your face, you need to revisit this law.”

Gohmert’s threat is issued in the context of Tea Party delusion and/or dishonesty in maintaining that imploding the Affordable Care Act at any cost to the country is a respectable negotiating position. They think they get to be a part of the conversation regardless of their behavior and they are not open to hearing otherwise.

I stand much to lose from a prolonged shutdown. If the existing pool of funds for Veterans Affairs disability payments runs dry in late October, I will receive zero income. The 800,000 furloughed government workers will be in dire straits far sooner than that. However, the painful truth is that the only way to right this ship is to end the Tea Party once and for all. They must pay the sole political price for this shutdown. Due to their insularity in the face of national opinion, that requires a fair amount of sacrifice on my part.

While we continue to point out that the shutdown is all the Tea Party’s fault and that their automatons should bear the full brunt of the political backlash for sabotaging the United States, we must support those members of Congress who are opposing them in the face of great pressure to end the shutdown. That’s why I encourage folks to show support for the Democratic Party members who are holding firm against them. I’m going to call my congressional reps and tell them to hold strong in the face of national sabotage.

PM Carpenter is right: The only way that Congress once again becomes an institution of governance is for Democrats to tell House Republicans that, in accordance with Congressional procedure, Republicans lost, the Affordable Care Act stands, and as The Daily Show suggested yesterday, this is the only negotiation left:

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