Valley Congressmen Split Over Government Shutdown
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Likelihood of a government shutdown this fall over federal spending and, in particular, funding implementation of the Affordable Care Act, appears to be growing, reports show, a prospect that divides the two congressmen who represent the Mahoning Valley.
“The problem we've got in Washington is a spending problem and we’ve got to address our spending problem,” asserts U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio. “No one wants to shut the government down but it's time for this administration and for [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid and for [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi to understand that we've got to stop the out-of-control spending. We need to balance the budget. We've got to pull back on taking more from the American people and letting the American people keep more of what they earn.”
Although Johnson stopped short of saying he would vote to shut the government down, he pointed out he has voted 40-some times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. “The majority of Americans have told the administration, have told Congress, that it's not the right medicine for the United States of America, so I would love to see the health care law go away and replace it with common sense solutions that are going to put health care decisions back between patients and their doctors and out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats,” he said.
Johnson’s fellow Mahoning Valley congressman, U.S. Rep. Ryan, D-13 Ohio, sees a House vote to shutdown the government likely, driven largely by a Tea Party that stands in near-automatic opposition to the Obama administration.
“The attitude now is there isn’t anything the government can do well, so let’s shut the place down,” Ryan says. “We are looking at a government shutdown in September."
Ryan blames people who reduce views on governing the United States to “seven or eight slogans you can put on a bumper sticker and think that’s how simple it is.” These people no longer are “just on the fringe of democracy throwing stones from the side” but instead are in the U.S. Congress itself, “80, 90, 100 of them, bringing the government to a screeching halt,” he said.
Part of the problem is the number of people who were elected to Congress with the intention of making Washington ineffective, which ignores the role government has made in advancing economic growth, Ryan says.
Washington has "never been a popular place, but if you look at the moon landing, investments in research and development that spurred economic growth from post-World War II well into the 1980s, you will see that Congress had a role in making key investments,” he argues. Technological innovations including advances in health care, semiconductors, satellites, telecommunications and cellular phones “all came from government investment.”
Republican leaders in Congress are facing pressure from conservatives -- both within their caucus and outside -- to force a shutdown. A Talking Points Memo story last week reported an “all-out grassroots mobilization” is underway by pressure groups such as FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America to press the case for shutdown. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a Tea Party group founded by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, has targeted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. In the Senate, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah are pushing for a shutdown.
Heritage Action last week released a poll to make the case that the GOP’s House majority is not at stake over a government shutdown and defunding the Affordable Care Act. Conducted in 10 Republican-leaning districts -- six held by Republicans and four held by Democrats -- 57% of the 1,000 respondents said they supported de-funding the Affordable Care Act, including 44% who “strongly support” defunding, according to the poll. Nearly two-thirds of respondents – or 60% -- favored a “temporary slowdown in nongovernment operations” to get President Obama to agree to at least a “time out” on implementing the law.
The poll also indicated that if an impasse resulted in a government shutdown, 28.3% of respondents would blame Republicans in Congress, 21.6% Obama, 19.1% Democrats in Congress, 5.1% the Tea Party and 16.8% all of the above.
House Republicans should be much more concerned with the fallout of failing to defund Obamacare than with the imaginary fallout of doing so,” said Michael A. Needham, Heritage Action CEO.
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