Your Oct. 18 editorial, “Only a step from a brink,” agrees with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu that the government shutdown was a manufactured crisis. Congratulations on correctly diagnosing the disease that ails this nation.
However, it’s difficult to cure the patient if you don’t know what caused the disease in the first place. This malady, this cancer on our country, is the Republican Party — and Louisiana Republicans, in particular.
I’ll exempt U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany from my diagnosis since he had the good sense to vote in favor of the bipartisan deal to end the shutdown. Of his tea party brethren in the House, Boustany said, “I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”
On the other hand, Louisiana Republicans have U.S. Rep. John Fleming, a man who has apparently never heard the adage “When you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.”
With the Republican Party’s popularity at all-time lows and the manufactured crisis of the GOP shutdown fresh in voters’ minds, Fleming simply can’t help himself. He’s already gearing up for Round 2, telling the New York Times, “See, we’re going to start this all over again.”
Right next to Fleming in the House GOP Shutdown Caucus were U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy.
Cassidy voted to continue the shutdown and turn the United States into a deadbeat nation. His motivation? Rolling back the Affordable Care Act, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you consider he was a champion for health insurance exchanges and expanded health coverage just a few years ago. Add in the fact that Cassidy’s struggling Senate campaign is failing to win over conservatives, and his motivations become much clearer.
Despite the best efforts by Cassidy, Scalise and Fleming, Louisiana Republicans and their tea party colleagues have little to show for their temper tantrum. The shutdown is over, but the damage is done. And now the threat of another manufactured crisis — Fleming’s Round 2 — is looming on the horizon.
You’re right that a “return to a regular budget process” could cure the disease, but it’s hard to see anyone coming up with the right medicine. It could be time for a tea party amputation to save our country.
Karen Carter Peterson
chairwoman, Louisiana Democratic Party