government shutdown 2013

As the government rolled to a stop, beginning at midnight Tuesday, a new poll shows that Americans know exactly which side of the political aisle bears the greater share of the blame.

In a new CNN poll, 69 percent of Americans — including 52 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters — believe that Congressional Republicans are “acting like spoiled children.” As a result, 46 percent say they would blame GOP members of the House for a shutdown. Additionally, 68 percent say a shutdown of a few days would be a bad thing for the country. That figure rises to nearly 80 percent when asked what if the government shutdown lasted a few weeks.

As it relates to what’s driving the cause of the now likely government shut down, Republican’s lingering yearning to repeal Obamacare, 60 percent say it is more important for Congress to avoid a shutdown than to make major changes to the new healthcare law.

In other words, after a vote in Congress, a presidential election tied around said law passed by Congress, and a Supreme Court decision backing up the legality of the Affordable Health Care Act, most Americans think the GOP needs to focus on doing their job versus fighting a war that’s already over.

That said, there is a new Pew poll that shows the blame is a bit more evenly leveled between Obama and the House Republicans, but those people polled must be Fox News bots sent to destroy reasoned thinking.

I choose to ignore that poll and stick with CNN’s poll along with the latest CBS/New York Times poll that finds that only 23 percent think House Republicans are trying to work with the President.

It’s a shame that the majority of the public has a better grasp of reality and responsibility than the people they’ve elected. The government could avoid a shutdown if the sanity-enhanced members of Congress push Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to stand up to the nut cases he’s presently pandering to at everyone else’s expense.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) was recently quoted as saying, ”Listen, I’m not going to let the government shut down. I don’t want to be undercutting Boehner, but put it this way: I will not let the government shut down.”

Likewise, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla) deputy whip of the House, acknowledges that Boehner could still pass a clean continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown if he wanted to. On that novel idea, Cole noted,  ”He didn’t mention it, but I’m sure he could if he wanted to.”

Boehner will have his chance to not be utterly useless and I strongly suggest he seize the moment. Later in the afternoon, the Senate will vote to strip the GOP’s extraneous riders from the CR – i.e. that whole defund Obamacare gag – and then send the clean bill back to the House. Once they do, Speaker Boehner will effectively decide to shut the government down or bring the Senate passed CR for a simple up-or-down vote. Boehner will only need a few sensible Republicans who still understand how government works to vote alongside Democrats to prevent a shutdown.

I’m praying to Beyoncé that he chooses to do the right thing and prevent a shutdown. I’m not holding my breath, though. The worst part is even if it the government does avoid a shutdown or even shutdown for a few days, we all still have to watch the GOP implode over another debt ceiling fight. A shutdown would hurt Americans, but not to the degree a default would.

Keep the blame game going, but we also need to be certain that we punish them at the polls accordingly.

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Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick

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