As we head into the second week of a government shutdown, many in Washington are busy assigning blame. Far more constructive, in my view, would be for all sides to be working together toward a solution.
Nobody expects us to agree on everything, but ordinary citizens should not be caught in the middle. It’s time to put the accusations and the name-calling aside and find the common ground that’s clearly within reach.
The first step toward a solution is to acknowledge the one thing that all sides agree on: no one wants this shutdown.
Sure, people on both sides have views on the political implications of the impasse. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe the shutdown is bad for the country, particularly for those who are directly affected by it.
And it doesn’t mean we stop trying to find a solution as quickly as possible.
The second step is to recognize how basic the issues that still divide us really are. By my count, there are only two, and both relate to a simple question of fairness under Obamacare.
For months, the American people have been reading stories about the impact this law will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance, and lost jobs.
As stories like these multiplied over the summer, Republicans felt compelled to ask for the same one-year delay from the impact of Obamacare for individuals and families that the President has already unilaterally granted to employers.
Americans have also made it clear that they expect to be treated no differently than members of Congress and their staff when it comes to the Obamacare exchanges.
These are the only two requests that now stand in the way of the government reopening. It’s hard to see how anyone could view them as unreasonable.
After all, it’s only fair for individuals to get the same break as employers, and for taxpayers on the exchanges get the same treatment as members of Congress.
Still, these simple requests for fairness continue to meet with faux outrage from Democrat leaders in Washington.
It’s clear they want to retain sole authority for modifying or delaying Obamacare in any way.
Thus, anyone who asks for simple fairness is routinely met with insults and ad hominen attacks, even as the President changes the law on his own.
For wanting equal treatment for our constituents, Republicans have been called everything from anarchists to suicide bombers by Democrat leaders and White House officials.
That’s not just counterproductive, it makes no sense. Most Americans may not want Obamacare, but as long as Democrats in Washington refuse to budge on implementation, can’t they at least enforce fairness?
This is all Republicans are asking for at this point in this debate, and there’s no reason the government should remain shuttered over it.
That’s why Republicans have also said that until we resolve these two last issues we should at least fund the most urgent functions of government.
Last week, both parties agreed to pay our military no matter what. House Republicans have also passed legislation to do the same for veterans, the National Guard, and the National Institutes of Health. Senate Democrats refuse to take them up.
I will continue to argue for common sense to prevail. This shutdown has serious consequences for my constituents and those of my colleagues.
Americans don’t want a shutdown, and they don’t want Obamacare.
But if Democrats can’t agree to the basic fairness Americans are asking for, can they at least agree to reopen the government — and to treat everyone equally?