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GOP Prepares to Take Us Over the Brink

In just a few hours the federal government will shut down for the first time in 17 years unless House Republicans stop wasting time on anti-Obamacare ransom notes and instead agree to a real compromise — a short-term funding bill at sequester spending levels — that will keep the government open.

Unfortunately, Republicans appear to care far more about more dead-end votes on Obamacare than about avoiding a damaging government shutdown.

Late Saturday, the House passed a measure that demanded a one-year halt to Obamacare in return for keeping the government open for just over two months. It also included a repugnant attack on women’s access to affordable birth control that would allow employers to deny birth control coverage to their female employees.

The Senate rejected this ransom note earlier this afternoon, but it appears that House Republicans are simply readying another equally unacceptable anti-Obamacare measure instead of a serious bill to keep the government open.

Sadly, we don’t have to wait for midnight to come to understand how damaging a government shutdown will be. Republican brinksmanship is already hurting the economy, just as it did during their manufactured debt limit crisis in 2011.

The New York Times reported today that “stock markets fell worldwide on Monday as political disagreements in Washington made a shutdown on Monday night increasingly likely.” “Investors are worried that even a temporary government shutdown could endanger an already weak economic recovery,” the Times added.

The Business Roundtable, a group representing corporate CEOs,surveyed its members and found that “half of top executives said the budget fights were crimping their hiring plans.”

The worst for the economy is of course yet to come:

  • A shutdown lasting three-to-four weeks could directly cost the government more than $2 BILLION, not including billions in more in costs to the economy thanks to plunging confidence among consumers and investors. Indeed, a shutdown could cost the economy $10 BILLION per week.
  • A government shutdown along with threats of an unprecedented default on our obligations, which Republicans are also threatening, is “corrosive on the economy,” according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. Moody’s estimates that a shutdown lasting three-to-four weeks could slash economic growth by as much as 1.4 percentage points.
  • The Washington Post notes that a shutdown lasting longer than a week “would suck money out of the economy and spread anxiety among consumers and businesses in a way that is likely to hold back economic activity.”
  • Fears over the impact to the economy led the GOP-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 230 other business groups to write to lawmakers last week “urging them to keep the government open.”

    Shutting down the government tonight will kneecap the economy and hurt millions of Americans, but ironically it will do nothing to actually stop Obamacare. Indeed, tomorrow marks the opening of insurance marketplaces that will allow millions of Americans, many of whom are currently insured or who have never had insurance, to shop for a quality, affordable health plan.

    “An important part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect tomorrow no matter what Congress decides to do today,” said President Obama late this afternoon. “The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down. ”

    Given the Republicans’ spiteful fixation on denying health care to millions of Americans, it’s no wonder that a poll out today found that the approval rating of Congress has dropped to just 10 percent — an all-time low. Other recent polls have found overwhelming disapproval for the GOP and its actions:

  • Just 7 percent of Americans back the GOP’s plan to delay and defund Obamacare. And less than one-third of Americans (26 percent) support the GOP’s ultimate and oft-stated goal of completely repealing Obamacare.
  • A whopping 68 percent of Americans want the law to move forward as is or with improvements.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) agree that shutting down the government for even a few days is “a bad thing for the country.”
  • Six in ten Americans also agree that it is more important for Congress to avoid shutting down the government than preventing Obamacare from moving forward.
  • An overwhelming 80 percent of Americans agree that threatening a government shutdown is not an acceptable way to negotiate.
  • Just 19 percent of Americans believe that it’s worth shutting down the government in order to defund Obamacare. That means that about half of the small minority of Americans who actually favor defunding Obamacare still oppose shutting down the government in order to do so.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans (69 percent) say Republicans in Congress “have acted mostly like spoiled children during the recent debate over the federal budget.”
  • Another poll found that just 26 percent of Americans approve of how Republicans in Congress have handled negotiations over the federal budget.
  • It’s also no wonder then that if the government shuts down tonight, the public will, correctly, blame Republicans. One poll out today found that a majority of Americans (51 percent) say they will blame Republicans in Congress “a lot” if the government shuts down, which is consistent with the findings of other recent polls.

    BOTTOM LINE: It’s sadly once again clear that Republicans will do anything — including shutting down the government and sabotaging the economy — in order to stop millions of Americans from gaining the security of quality, affordable health care.