October 6, 2013

How to end the federal shutdown

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republican Party, passed bills that would exempt parts of the federal government from the shutdown that started Tuesday.

The GOP bills would have reopened parks overseen by the National Park Service and some national museums, provided funding for research conducted by the National Institutes of Health and provided the funding approved for the District of Columbia’s latest budget.

Leaders in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, rejected those measures. The goal of Democrats, including President Barack Obama, is clear. They want to make the shutdown as painful as possible. Hence the petty attempts to close the open-air National Mall and force private businesses operating on federal lands to close their doors. The federal government even tried to close historic Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, even though it is completely owned and managed by a private group.

Democrats say they won’t settle for reopening parts of the federal government. They want a spending bill that will reopen everything. But Republicans say they won’t approve any bill that doesn’t defund and delay the Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare, for one year.

It’s clear from the president’s own actions that GOP demands are not unreasonable. He has delayed almost two dozen provisions of the law already, including the requirement that companies with at least 50 employees provide health insurance. And he has granted more than 1,100 waivers to the law to companies, labor unions and other groups.

And yet while the administration has postponed the burden on some groups, the law will still require all Americans to have health insurance whether they want it or not come Jan. 1.

If the Democrats can’t agree to delay all of Obamacare, fairness demands they should at least delay the individual mandate. If some are exempt, all should be.

And if Democrats are willing to take that step, Republicans should take that deal.


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