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Calamity averted

10/17/2013

There comes a time when personal beliefs need to be set aside in favor of sound governing principles. On the eve of deliberately causing potential economic calamity, the U.S. Congress finally decided to raise the nation's debt limit and fully reopen the federal government.

We can't help but wonder if the so-called tea party bloc realizes how much damage it caused by staging an unwinnable battle to undo the Affordable Care Act. We doubt it.

Fortunately for our country's sake, there is a solid majority of thoughtful politicians who understood the stakes. In the Senate, there were 81 votes in favor of ending the manufactured crisis that took an estimated $24 billion out of the national economy. On the House side, there were 285 legislators unwilling to see how badly people throughout the country would be hurt if the U.S. refused to pay its debts for the first time in history.

The all-Republican Kansas delegation showed its true colors in the rollcall tallies. Only Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Jill Jenkins supported the necessary measure. That left Sen. Pat Roberts and Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo and Kevin Yoder voting against the best interests of this great nation.

The contrast in governing styles is best displayed by the current and former standard-bearers for the Big First House district.

Huelskamp, who has staked out a position as a reliable partner of political and religious extremists, said: "It is easy to sum up this deal -- the political Establishment in Washington wins, and real Americans lose. Big businesses keep their ObamaCare exemption, special interests win, members of Congress retain their gold-plated health care -- while ordinary Americans continue to struggle unfairly under the devastating effects of ObamaCare."

Great rhetorical commentary, but it is divorced from reality. Real Americans aren't suffering from ObamaCare -- it doesn't even go live until the beginning of the year. Real Americans still are suffering from the Great Recession and its lingering effects, whether they're unemployed, having necessary benefits stripped away, or left with only a memory of what their retirement nest egg used to be because of Congress' inability to take care of the nation's business. Had the country gone into default, as Huelskamp voted to ensure, the fallout likely would have been worse than the Great Depression.

And all because the current First District representative doesn't want all Americans to have access to quality and affordable health care, or possibly be insured so the rest of us aren't continuously picking up the tab of their emergency room visits.

Sen. Moran, who used to represent the Big First, isn't necessarily a big fan of ObamaCare either. But he understands the big picture and voted accordingly.

"The American government should never default on its debt obligations," Moran said. "This good-faith deal calms fear of default for now, but we must take advantage of the next 90 days to finally work together and get our spending under control."

We agree current spending habits are not sustainable. And there are any number of large-ticket items that need to be addressed quickly. But we need to make sure we use logic and common sense in the process.

Judging by the number of Romney-Ryan bumper stickers still attached to vehicles throughout northwest Kansas, we know who Rep. Paul Ryan is -- and shouldn't be surprised to note that he voted against raising the debt ceiling and reopening the government.

But even this Wisconsin congressman, the much-heralded conservative wunderkind with a knack for financial know-how, knows the country's financial situation will take a long time to fix. Recall his budget that was offered as a sensible alternative to President Barack Obama's? The one that ultimately was rejected by the majority of Americans but still held up by conservatives as a goal? Even it only slowed the growth rate of public spending, from 5.0 percent annually to 3.4 percent. Ryan's budget had the federal government spending $41 trillion during the next 10 years, as opposed to the $46 trillion proposed by Obama. Deficit spending wouldn't disappear until year 10, which by definition demands the debt ceiling being raised repeatedly for the next nine years.

What is so difficult to understand about that? Apparently a lot for the tea party crowd.

And why Huelskamp and others believed they could undo the president's signature domestic legislation with Obama still in the Oval Office and Democrats controlling the Senate defies even rudimentary logic.

We are grateful common sense prevailed before an unprecedented meltown took place in the national and global economies.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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