It was a week marked by deep political divisions and shutdowns — with no resolution in sight.
Much to our national shame, the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial and all 401 of America's national parks are now closed. The last of the campers were ushered out of Yosemite National Park on Thursday. Those backpacking deep in the Grand Canyon have been rousted as well.
Locally, it's much the same picture. The Point Reyes National Seashore is off limits. The same is true of Muir Woods National Monument, Mendocino National Forest and the campgrounds at Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino. Meanwhile, hundreds of North Coast residents working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the IRS or other federal agencies have been sent home. All because of a GOP tantrum over a health care law that was approved in 2010 and has been settled many times over — including in a national election a year ago.
But so far, House Republicans are showing no signs of backing down from their hard-line approach of refusing to open the government unless Congress reopens debate on the Affordable Care Act. And despite polls that show Americans oppose this tactic and look more favorably on Obamacare than they do congressional Republicans, they are sticking to their guns.
And one is pointed at the nation's economy.
"It's kind of a bizarre environment," Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, told The Press Democrat Editorial Board on Friday. "(Sen. Ted) Cruz is running the whole thing, and people are afraid to cross him."
According to Bloomberg News, the shutdown is costing the nation $300 million in lost economic output — per day. Furthermore, the study by Lexington, Mass.-based IHS, a global market research firm, found that the daily impact is likely to accelerate the longer the shutdown continues due to lost consumer confidence and reduced spending.
But concern about the shutdown is small compared to what's around the corner — an Oct. 17 deadline on raising the debt ceiling. If the same tactics are employed, the nation risks seeing interest rates soar, credit markets freeze and the value of the dollar drop like a stone. All with untold ripple effects on the global economy.
The public can take comfort in the pledge by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that he won't permit the country to default on its debt. But we see little to inspire hope.
House Republicans' only tactic at this point is to offer to reopen the government on a piecemeal basis — and then criticize Democrats for refusing to go along. Since when did Americans leave it up to a wing-nut junior senator from Texas to determine what parts of the national government should be funded and what shouldn't?