With parts of the federal government closed, The Daily Star sought some thoughts on the situation from a moderate Republican who served local constituents in the 21st, 23rd and 24th Districts of upstate New York when Congress faced a similar situation.
Former U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, 77, served in Congress from 1983 through 2006.
“Government should be the art of reasonable compromise that should serve the interests of all,” he said. Instead, today “there is partisan gamesmanship and everybody is losing.”
The situation reflects badly on both sides, but “the Republicans have to be faulted more because they are in charge of the House,” he said. “People expect them to be responsible.”
He also faulted the Democratic approach.
“Where is it cast in stone that you don’t talk to the other side in an argument?” he said. “There should be ongoing discussions.”
But the debate seems to be shifting from the initial effort by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Its basic premise of providing health insurance to those who otherwise can’t afford it makes sense to me,” he said. When Social Security was enacted in the 1930s or Medicare enacted in the 1960s “it wasn’t smooth sailing. But where would we be as a nation without them?”
He noted that the Affordable Care Act is “the law of the land,” and it should have the opportunity “to play out.”
The focus in Washington now has has moved to extending the debt ceiling. But with tea party Republicans threatening to default on the national debt if their demands aren’t met, Boehlert said, the way “they are putting the full faith and credit of the government on the line is irresponsible. You can’t even think about defaulting.”
Republican House Speaker John Boehner has the hardest job in Washington, D.C., dealing with the demands of the tea party in arriving at this situation, Boehlert said.