Like many others, I have been watching in stupefied horror as the House Republicans try to un-do legislation passed by an earlier Congress by holding the country hostage.
Some changes need to be made so that a minority is not again in a position to negate legislation which is already law because they don’t like it. But that is for the future. The question now is not just how to get government workers back in their offices again, but how not to avoid an even worse situation in which the United States defaults on its debts.
I have thought that Obama is right to refuse to compromise on Obamacare at this point.
But if it comes to it, and the choice is between defaulting on our debts and defunding (ie, essentially destroying) Obamacare, I think Obama should choose the lesser of two evils and make it clear that it is the Republicans who are responsible.
The health care being made available through Obamacare is essential for tens of thousands of seriously sick people today unable to afford essential medical treatment. It is terrible to refuse to help them. But the economic destruction that will be caused by default by a major economy whose currency is the reserve currency of the world will cause even more suffering and poverty. It will last for years – some economists think the economic effects could last a generation.
And the loss of prestige and trust and leadership by a country that does not pay its debt because it is fighting over whether to provide health care for its sick will probably be permanent.
I’m finding it hard these days to be proud to be an American. We seem to be betraying so many of our own basic principles of justice and responsibility.