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Drawing the line

Published October 04. 2013 4:00AM   Updated October 04. 2013 10:35AM

Many diehards continue to see no problem with the strategy employed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to try to force Democrats and President Barack Obama to abandon or delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. They apparently see it as run-of-the-mill politics for House Republicans to refuse to fund the government unless they get what they want.

Having failed to block legislation through the normal electoral and democratic process, some seem to think it is OK to allow the government to default on its financial obligations, and create an economic crisis, in the effort to force the other side to repeal a law.

To make the case as to why this tactic is so dangerous and why President Obama and the Democrats cannot give into it, we offer the following scenario.

It is the autumn of 2018, the second year of Republican Chris Christie's term as president. In a bruising legislative battle in 2017, the former New Jersey governor had managed to find enough moderate votes in the Democratic controlled Senate to push through tax cuts that he assured the public would finally get the U.S. economy humming. Offsetting the tax cuts were substantial spending reductions, with human services programs particularly hard hit.

Yet things are not going as planned. The economy's meager growth continues despite the tax cuts. The deficit is growing worse, tax revenue projections tied to predictions of a booming economy having failed to materialize. President Christie calls for patience. After eight years of the Obama administration, the wounds to the economy are deep, he explains, but a turnaround is coming.

The House of Representatives, still in Republican hands, poses no problem. But a group of liberal Senate Democrats, confident their seats are safe in their home states, are mounting an insurrection. They recall how Republicans had blocked Obamacare in 2013. Now it is their turn.

Senate leaders vow not to pass a budget or increase the debt limit until President Christie and Republicans abandon the tax cuts and/or restore many of the programs they slashed to pay for them.

What's good for the goose.

Does the nation want this future? Is manufacturing crisis after crisis to force the opposition to capitulate the way to govern? Will legislation never be settled, always open to some future opportunity to strong-arm concessions?

President Obama quite correctly recognizes he must win this fight not only for his administration, but also for future administrations. He cannot allow governing by coercion to prevail.

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