NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 15, 2013

Shutdown nothing more than hostage taking

To the editor:

Each side appears to blame the other for this government shutdown, but I propose that those who blame Democrats or the administration for being unwilling to compromise are not thinking clearly. If one considers the basic facts, the picture becomes quite clear:

There is a process for making laws, changing them and/or repealing them. This is the job of Congress, with the president and Supreme Court in place as a check on Congress’ power. Congress also has the responsibility to approve expenditures (among other things).

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was passed by Congress, signed into law and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. It is not a “bill” to be debated and discussed and “negotiated.” The president, as chief executive, is duty-bound to enforce it. The only people in Congress who can say they did not have a chance to debate Obamacare are the freshmen who were elected after it was passed. To say it has not been sufficiently debated is ludicrous, considering the attention it received during the last presidential election.

Now, if these freshmen, or any other congressperson or senator, wishes to repeal or amend the law, there is a process for that: file a bill and let it go through Congress like every other bill. Using the tactic of attaching to the continuing resolution, a bill which everyone knows must pass to keep the government running, provisions making changes to an unrelated law, is nothing less than hostage taking, with the U.S. government the hostage. Isn’t it our official policy never to negotiate with hostage takers?

If you still disagree, consider this:

Suppose the speaker of the House was beholden to a handful of “liberal” congressmen who were tired of the “will of the American people” being ignored, and they attached a provision onto the continuing resolution that required background checks be performed before all gun purchases: “Give us the common-sense gun controls that most Americans support or we’ll shut down the government. Period. No compromises!”

Picture that, and explain to me how it would be any different than our current situation, if you can. It would be dishonorable and wrong, just like the current hostage stand-off is dishonorable and wrong. Neither the president nor any other government official should “negotiate” with the hostage-takers.

Glenn Richards

Newburyport

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