The shutdown: Obama is mistaken about who holds the hostage

October 4, 2013

Regarding the government shutdown, President Obama says that the Republicans are holding “the entire economy hostage.” I believe that he is wrong with respect to who is holding what hostage.

House Republicans passed legislation to fund all of the thousands of programs and agencies of the federal government, with stipulations on just one program, and they have demonstrated a willingness to negotiate the stipulations. The president refuses to consider any stipulations.

This program, of course, is important to the president, and he has the right to negotiate as he has. He rightly concludes that, were he left with just the one hostage, the majority of Americans would lose interest in the standoff. However, it is he who is refusing to fund the other programs and agencies.

Steven Lent, Arlington

May I suggest that the workers who have been furloughed by Congress go to the Capitol and stand there, quietly and peacefullyforming a circle around the building? A few thousand people might wake up lawmakers to the fact that their actions mean real things to real people, not only to their political parties or small, fractious and vocal groups.

Next Tuesday would be an appropriate time to assemble, one week after the beginning of this latest example of ineptitude. If Congress doesn’t get the message, by the weekend we all should join these workers to show our support for them and our disdain for Congress.

Brian Rees, Springfield

The country will be governable again only when Democrats and less conservative Republicans join in a new coalition to isolate the most conservative Republicans. Very conservative Republicans now are in a win-win position with their constituents: If they obtain concessions, they win and can come back for more in the next crisis; if they lose but fight well, they win because they stayed true to their principles. They need not compromise.

This coalition must isolate them, like a bacillus, so it can govern a healthy country.

Ted Pulliam, Alexandria

The foundation of democracy is majority rule. A poll this week showed that a majority of the American people disapproves of the shutdown. A majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate supports ending the shutdown by passing a “clean” continuing resolution. But Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) will not allow the House to vote on such a measure. Why is he allowed to deny us our fundamental right to live in a democratic society?

James N. Fox, Fairfax

Polls suggest that citizens blame the Republicans more than the Democrats or President Obama for the shutdown of government services deemed not essential.

It is easy for ideological Democrats to say that the Republican-controlled House should send a “clean” funding bill to the Democratic-controlled Senate, and it is just as easy for ideological Republicans to say the Senate should pass one of the bills the House has passed. But the president is the head of government, so the responsibility of all successes or failures of government rests with him.

The impasse is over the Affordable Care Act, but the failure of the president to lead is not occurring only now; the failure occurred when the act was passed with votes only from Democrats. A wise and effective leader would have either secured a bipartisan vote on such a significant piece of legislation or withdrawn it.

The responsibility for the shutdown belongs entirely to President Obama.

Steve A. Brown, Springfield

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