EDITORIAL: Hostage taking is a terrible way to run our government

Federal shutdown is a reminder of California's troubled past.

FresnoOctober 2, 2013 

If you want Congress to be locked in perennial budget battles, as California's Legislature was a few years back, then by all means support the House GOP in its gambit that has shut down much of the federal government.

As we noted yesterday, the House GOP is responsible for manufacturing the current crisis by insisting that delay or dismantling of Obamacare be part of any funding plan. This comes after voters re-elected President Obama in 2012, and after Congress has rejected repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare.

If House Speaker John Boehner were to put a clean funding bill up for a vote, one that was stripped of language to undermine the Affordable Care Act, it would easily pass, with Republican and Democratic votes. Yet Boehner refuses to do so, fearful of a minority of tea party extremists in his caucus that could end his leadership.

We've heard from readers who support the House GOP's tactics. We wonder how they'd feel if the tables were turned. Imagine in 10 years that a Republican is in the White House, with the GOP controlling the Senate and Democrats running the House. Then imagine the reaction if House Democrats were to threaten to shut down the federal government unless Republicans agreed to one of their policy demands -- such as an assault weapons ban.

Back when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor and Democrats controlled both chambers in the Legislature -- but not with two-thirds majorities -- the budget was taken hostage by Republicans seeking policy changes or pork for their districts.

Hangups over the budget caused the state's credit rating to tank; state contractors went unpaid; the California-bashing clique of the East Coast media had a field day dumping on the state.

Maybe it will work out for the extortionists in D.C., but the dysfunction of the Schwarzenegger years did not work out well for the Republican Party in California.

Democrats now control Sacramento, and though they pander to public employee unions and other special interests, they can rightly brag that they have ended gridlock and are repairing state finances. Republicans in Washington should be wary about history repeating itself. Voters don't like dysfunction, and regardless of party affiliation, they should condemn hostage takers.

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