www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

The defining issue of economic recovery -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done? -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

Funding DHDC -7/27/2014, 1:18 PM

Endorsement for Shultz -7/25/2014, 3:28 PM

Against the wind -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Do blacks need favors? -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Vote Huelskamp out -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Open meetings -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Leadership change needed -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Vote for Huelskamp -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Protecting unborn children -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Learning experience valuable -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

False equivalence -7/23/2014, 8:07 AM

Measles' scary comeback -7/23/2014, 1:27 PM

The 'big data' deal -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

GOP can't get out of its own way -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

War only will add to Middle East problems -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Avoiding taxes -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Take the win in Iran -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

The high court's high-handedness -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

Up in arms in the Capitol -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Firefighters weigh in on pay raise -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Backpacks for Kids -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Our unwillingness to defend ourselves -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

Remembering a man who championed freedom -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

GOP split -7/17/2014, 8:38 AM

New Kansas senator -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Who'll build the roads? -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Reagan: In or out? -7/16/2014, 2:45 PM

'Unbroken' WWII vet more than a hero -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Savor the fruits of your labor -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Erasing candidate's standards -7/15/2014, 11:36 AM

Returning to Trail Wood -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Leaving some in 'suspense' -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Strangers in a remarkable land -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Courageous or spineless? Our actions decide -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Ambition: An unlikely gift to Kansas voters -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Beyond the outrage -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Water watch -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Scenic outlooks -7/11/2014, 9:18 AM

China's research trumps teaching -7/11/2014, 9:17 AM

Important slow news -7/10/2014, 9:42 AM

We've got a promise to keep -7/10/2014, 9:33 AM

The white combine calls -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Vote for family values -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Politicians making a mockery of my faith -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Missing tribute -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Rural students deserve 21st Century education -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

The education table dance -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

A new virus -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

Government as God -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

EPA affecting others -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

'Narrow' decision from the narrow-minded -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

The tax trap -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Rulings produce 'First Amendment fireworks' -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Firefighter salaries -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Economic freedom -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Protecting our independence -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Dan Johnson, 1936-2014 -7/3/2014, 7:12 AM

New Iraq offensive backfires -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Setting things straight -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

'Crapitalism' -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Feeding peace throughout the world -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Half way is still only half way -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Sherow a better choice -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Fireworks, part II -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Reality show made in Topeka -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

The justices and their cellphones -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

LOB defeated -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

Tragedy explored in 'Broken Heart Land' -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Mexico City: The adventure continues -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Even our youngest Americans are citizens -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

Ban on fireworks -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

It's time to teach active citizenship -6/29/2014, 12:57 PM

The education establishment's success -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Piecework professors -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Marriage for all -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Prairie chicken madness -6/26/2014, 4:17 PM

Omission control -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Equal in the eyes of the law -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Help wanted -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

The old red barn -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Beware the unimaginable -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Early critic of school testing was right -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Finding something 'different' in Topeka -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Shopping small -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Into the classroom -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Wow! And thanks to you -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Fireworks double-standard -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Glass half full -6/22/2014, 5:57 PM

Brownback's experiment wallops taxpayers -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Examining the importance of 'where' we speak -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Slavery reparations -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

'Help me plagiarize' -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Thank a farmer -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Here comes tomorrow -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Why Americans dislike soccer -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Switching to teaching -6/18/2014, 4:32 PM

Clinic closing good -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Other avenues -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Examining the politics of shutdown

Published on -10/4/2013, 1:14 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Here's a big news alert: House Republicans oppose Obamacare.

That's why they've shut the government down.

No, doing so won't actually stop Obamacare. To a great extent, the program is on autopilot. The Republicans shut down the government, but the exchanges are open for business.

The last time the Republicans shut down the government, they at least had the fig leaf that they were doing so to protest the size of government.

Not this time. This time, it's not about the size of government. It's not about the deficit. The Senate already has gone along with the House's insistence that agencies cut their spending in the coming weeks.

This is pure symbolism -- on the Republican side -- at the expense of people who depend on the government and work for the government.

Maybe you or a loved one is trying to sign up for a potentially lifesaving clinical trial. Sorry. You can't.

Maybe you work as an air traffic controller or a prison guard. The "good news" is you're still working. The "bad news" is you don't get paid.

It's not right.

Make no mistake. This is not going to help Republicans in the long run. Playing games with people's lives is not smart politics. The fact many well-known Republican senators have made clear that this is not an appropriate way to protest Obamacare underscores the ideological extremism that holds sway in the House.

Just the other day, a lifelong Republican sought me out to express his immense frustration. Why are they doing this, he kept asking me. Don't they understand that however unpopular Obamacare is, closing down the government as a symbolic protest is going to be seen as irresponsible? It's even more unpopular than Obamacare.

I have no answer. Or rather, I have no answer other than the obvious one: the House is under the control of extremists who are throwing a political temper tantrum, and responsibility be damned.

As a Democrat, I should be pleased. As an American, I am deeply troubled.

We're used to having extremists hold sway on cable television. But that's entertainment. You can vote with your clicker. You don't have to watch. At the end of the day, no one gets hurt.

Congress should be different. It's not a TV show. It's not a tryout for the next round of "Crossfire," or at least it shouldn't be. This is real life. This is about parents not getting paid, people who need loans for their businesses not getting help, people who are sick having to wait for the ideologues to stop playing games.

"I'm always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better," the president said. "But one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn't get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election."

Except that they did.

Obamacare was a central issue in the last election. By the time he won his party's nomination, Mitt Romney effectively had turned his back on his own (similar) program in Massachusetts and was urging voters who opposed Obamacare to vote for him. If you wanted to get rid of Obamacare, the way to do it was to elect Romney and give Republicans a majority in the Senate.

It didn't happen. Romney lost. The Senate remains in Democratic hands. That's how it works in a democracy. You win some, and you lose some. The tea party lost. Better luck next time.

Or not. There might be some new contestants for Newt Gingrich's slot on "Crossfire."

Better there than in Congress.

Susan Estrich is a columnist, commentator and law and political science professor at USC.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos