David Aas, Minot
It is quite fashionable for the media to be blaming the recalcitrant House Republicans for the current turmoil that we are seeing in Washington D.C. Our president singles out the "Tea Party Republicans" for their "extremist" views.
A news flash is in store for President Obama: The Democratic Party is on the wrong side of this argument. For too long, the Democratic Party has been running our nation's economy into the ground. The party of "tax and spend" has been expanding entitlements with no plans to pay for them. They have been growing federal spending in the face of massive deficits, with the expressed desire to raise taxes in a feeble attempt to pay for these expanded entitlements. Passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") was the last straw. The Democratic Party arrogantly passed this law in March of 2010 seeking zero input from the Republicans, and against the desires of the American people. Earl Pomeroy voted in favor of this monstrosity against the wishes of North Dakotans, and was a casualty of his vote in the 2010 elections. The voters of North Dakota kicked him out of office.
During the 2012 campaign, Heidi Heitkamp ran on the promise of being "independent" of the Democratic leadership. To her credit, she has bucked her leadership on the issue of the Second Amendment. However, on the issues of the budget, debt ceiling and Obamacare she has voted just as Harry Reid has told her to.
The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is taking a tough stand for one reason: The future of our great country. If the Democrats get their way, they will spend massive amounts of money that the Treasury does not have. They will raise taxes to an oppressive level to the point that Americans will all be serfs to Washington. Our country will be bankrupt.
It often takes a crisis for action to take place. An example of this is that it is easy to put off flood control projects because they are expensive. However, once a devastating flood happens, and people lose their property, then flood control becomes a more urgent problem. The Republican Party wants to solve our country's spending and budget problems before a crisis happens. I am unfortunately resigned to the fact that a majority of the "low information voter" crowd may not start paying attention until our country reaches that crisis point. I would hate to see that happen.
Despite the demagoguery, Republicans are not against Obamacare because we want to deny healthcare to little kids. We are against Obamacare because it is the wrong solution to the problem, and the United States of America cannot afford it. Republicans do want to get healthcare to kids. Republicans have always believed that the best way to get healthcare to the vulnerable of our society is for their parents to have a good job with good benefits, including employer-provided health insurance. Job creators do not need to be discouraged to provide good benefits due to burdensome regulations (like Obamacare does).
President Obama thinks that he can negotiate by running our great country to the brink and then jumping off. Republicans want to talk about these issues like adults, and Harry Reid and Barak Obama want to hide in the corner like spoiled little 4-year olds. Make no mistake. The GOP did not cause the current government shutdown. Barak Obama and Harry Reid's reluctance to sit in the same room with the House GOP is what has caused this current shutdown. The House Republicans are working to pass funding legislation, but Harry Reid rejects the House proposals out of hand, without any discussion or counter-proposals. The only chorus we hear is "all or nothing" from Reid and Obama. Is that any way to address these complex problems? Is this any way to run our country?
North Dakota voters that are frustrated with this process do have an option. Call Heitkamp's office and tell her to get the message to Harry Reid that Harry needs to have a conversation with the House leadership to resolve this. Make your frustrations known to Heitkamp. Progress will not happen until Harry Reid realizes that he needs to negotiate in good faith with John Boehner and bring this circus in Washington, D.C., to an end. Heidi knows full well what happened to the last Democrat who worked against the wishes of the North Dakota voters.
(Aas is the chairman of the District 5 Republican Party of North Dakota)