It’s the economy, stupid.
That was James Carville’s famous political strategy during the election of Bill Clinton as president.
By that measure, we don’t like the deal that members of Congress and today’s president worked up after a Republican insurgency that shut down parts of the government and threatened a default by the United States.
Why? Because it just kicks the can a short way down the road only a matter of months.
We believe the United States’ economy desperately needs a period of stability. Economic recovery is still fragile. This latest government shutdown hurt various businesses in the state and, if prolonged, threatened worse harm to industries important to Louisiana, including oil exploration and international tourism.
By that measure, ending the shutdown and avoiding a default crisis over the federal government’s debt limit is a good outcome.
But by stretching out these negotiations with further artificial deadlines, the prospect of more high-wire acts is in view only weeks and months from now.
Why should there be any threat of another shutdown? Why shouldn’t the Congress extend the government’s borrowing authority at least through next fall’s elections? That’s a more economically, as well as politically, responsible time frame.
This year’s futile gesture of a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act surely was wrong. The fire-breathers in the GOP caucus in the House became the tail wagging the dog, a process that never ends well for the dog.
Unfortunately, even with an unfavorable reaction for the Republicans in the polls, a year of relative stability isn’t in the cards. It is as if members want to indulge themselves with drama, while Americans out in the working world want some peace and quiet.
The normal process is for a conference committee of Democrats and Republicans from both chambers to debate these spending issues. That’s not a way to dodge the issues, but to get to a budget that doesn’t depend on holding hostage the U.S. government’s financial integrity.
We agree with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that this was a manufactured crisis. The way out of it is not to extend the debt ceiling for just a little while, but to return to a regular budget process. “The sooner we get there, the better,” Landrieu told The Advocate, saying businesses large and small “want more than a six-week or six-month deal that they have seen so far.”
That remains a goal that is unmet despite the last-minute negotiations on Capitol Hill.