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Congress only delays problems

Editorial

Well, that was close, at least as far as we know.

Late Wednesday, enough lawmakers came to their senses to realize that using the partial government shutdown and America’s credit worthiness as bargaining chips weren’t going to make Obamacare or the Affordable care Act, depending upon your perspective, go away.

But in true congressional fashion, legislators only postponed the issue rather than solve it.

After the House passed the Senate’s continuing resolution to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and end the shutdown, President Barack Obama signed it. Now, the Halloween financial default has been delayed until around Valentine’s Day, which is the next time the government is expected to run out of enough money to pay its bills.

The fact is, this tactic was failed from the start. The ACA was written so that it was going to be funded regardless, and the conservatives who wanted it gutted simply didn’t have the political muscle to do it. As U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, pointed out, the GOP controls half of one-third of the federal government. Defunding Obamacare was never going to happen, regardless of how flawed the program is.

So, where does America go from here?

We’d like to think cooler heads will prevail and someone in Washington would take to the notion that actual governing would be a nice approach, but that’s probably, at best, wishful thinking. The good of Americans hasn’t been on either side’s mind in any of these fight, regardless of the sound bites various officials spit out. Positioning to control Congress and the White House has been the driving force, and Democrats and Republicans alike will use every aspect of this latest congressional fiasco to make their points, facts notwithstanding.

Most likely, we’ll be looking at another high-wire act in the Capitol circus starting around the middle of January and ending weeks later with another tent-pole collapse.

As we have said, if lawmakers and the White House really want to end the madness in regard to potentially flushing the U.S. economy down the toilet for political gain, they should give serious consideration to and pass the biennial budgeting process proposed by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta. Only America’s standing as the world’s largest economy and its currency’s reputation as being safe have kept this last irresponsible spat from driving us into another Great Depression.

As it stands, our allies and those who aren’t all that friendly to us would be fools not to rethink the use of the U.S. dollar as the world standard. Only the fact that — despite Washington’s collective incompetence — there is no better choice on the market and investors still believed that even a Congress that allowed sequester to happen wouldn’t be foolish enough to let the United States default on its debts enabled us to endure this scrape with disaster. And for those who urged it because of “fiscal responsibility,” good job. Besides a $24 billion hole in the economy and erosion of faith in America, it got more expensive for the U.S. to borrow, which, as you might guess, makes the debt problem even worse.

With debt now at $16.7 trillion, annual budgets exceeding $3.8 trillion and yearly income of less than $2.2 trillion, America has a financial problem that needs to be resolved. Adopting a biennial budget schedule would be a good second step. The first step? Put America ahead of party politics.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board