Anyone paying attention to Washington this week has probably experienced a familiar sinking feeling: Congress is embroiled in another one of its periodic hostage-taking crises over a looming budget deadline that threatens to close the government, cost taxpayers billions, and possibly plunge the economy back into recession. One group of Republicans, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, is trying to force President Obama to repeal his health care law, or they will refuse to extend funding for the government, which runs out on Monday. Another group, led by House Speaker John Boehner, is attaching its list of demands to the debt ceiling, which must be increased by late October or the United States will default.
What’s most maddening about these debates is that the 2012 election was supposed to have settled them. It appeared to do so in favor of the Democrats: Obama was reelected by 5 million votes and his party gained seats in the House and Senate. But most Republicans either ignore these results or believe that they no longer reflect national sentiment. “That was a year ago,” says Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who wants to “defund” the Affordable Care Act. “I mean, c’mon!”