Michael Steele: We Have Elected a Bunch of Children to Run Our Government

Look ma, no federal government!

At some point the entire BS that is the government shutdown sinks in and we have to deal with reality: We have elected a bunch of children to run our government.

One reality that must not change about America and the free enterprise economy is that the root of America’s success has always sprung out of the hard labor of its entrepreneurs: the men and women who risk it all on a dream. Government doesn’t do that; government can’t do that. When a job is created by a small business owner they make an investment in people in a way that government can’t match. So when those same business owners have legitimate concerns about government policies that affect them, elected officials must listen in order to  preserve the conditions that allow small businesses to thrive.

446px-Michael_SteeleThe fact that politicians in Washington have lost sight of that tells me we can longer trust them to do this by themselves. Each one of us must be prepared to help set the nation’s priorities for the immediate future. We must decide what price we’re prepared to pay for a strong national defense and better schools; how much are we truly ready to spend for our children’s healthcare and to secure our nation’s borders? Which programs are we prepared to cut in order to get our financial house in order, and by how much? While these are difficult questions, they are not either/or choices, but rather complementary opportunities.

The White House and the Congress need to take a time out from the silliness of politics and the drama of blaming one or the other for shutting down the government—both political parties, the White House and Congress are to blame. Stupid lives at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in this mess.

The president could have very easily agreed to delay—for a time—the full implementation ofObamacare given that his administration had already unilaterally delayed the employer mandate, waived the out-of-pocket caps until 2015, delayed the enforcement of key eligibility requirements for insurance subsidies, delayed the required cuts in Medicare until after the November elections and had already missed over a third of the deadlines set by the healthcare law.

In exchange, House Republicans were prepared to give the president a clean continuing resolution to fund the federal government.

Likewise, the GOP found itself in meaningless fist fights between Ted Cruz and Republican House members to the point that no one was credible in making a clear and cogent argument for delaying the implementation of Obamacare. In fact, many Republicans came off as insensitive to the personal impact their decision to shut down the government would have on those who don’t get to choose whether or not pay their bills for however long this silliness goes on.

Moreover, more pragmatic GOP voices in both the House and Senate were effectively drowned out by hot rhetoric and threats of primary challenges. That’s not leadership—it’s actually fear. Fear of reaching consensus on governing our nation’s business. Instead, Republicans effectively wound up negotiating with themselves as Speaker John Boehner was locked into a strategy that turned out to be no strategy at all, and here we are.

Americans want someone to get serious about the short-term and long-term conditions that have led to this current standoff. It’s time to for the children on the playground to grow up; to address the legitimate concerns that many Americans have about the Affordable Care Act; to seek immediate resolution on raising the nation’s debt ceiling and for heaven’s sake, get back to work!

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