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Alaska Editorial: How to end the shutdown

Posted: October 7, 2013 - 11:00pm

This editorial originally appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

What we’d like to see: End the shutdown, pay our debts and take on work of governing.

John Boehner meets with President Obama. He tells the president that he can and will put together the votes in the House of Representatives — even if it requires a bipartisan mix — to pass a continuing resolution to restore government operations, and then raise the debt ceiling to cover Uncle Sam’s obligations.

No strings. No delays, defunding or repeal for any part of Obamacare in return.

But, Boehner also makes clear that the Republicans will seek to amend or delay Obamacare as they believe necessary. Or, if Republicans feel little short of repeal will do, Boehner makes clear to the president that he and the Democrats own Obamacare, and that the GOP will go all out in an effort to keep the House and win the Senate in 2014 to move closer to repeal, point out every glitch and failure they can.

Fair enough. That’s hardball politics. Both sides play. But government functions, bills are paid and the American people can begin to believe that at least we have adults in charge.

As the details, costs and success or failure of the Affordable Care Act unfold, Americans will better see whether or not it works and how it might work better. If the Republicans have good ideas, they should pitch them to the president and the country, do the nation good and build political capital at the same time. And if Obamacare works as the president and his backers say it will, then he’ll have won because the American people have won.

Naive? Only on the surface. That’s because at some point, substance actually does make the difference. If Obamacare works, then Republicans’ only wise course will be to recognize reality and stop fighting it.

If it doesn’t work, that will become clear and Americans will demand major changes or a fresh start. Republicans will have a ready-made campaign issue and an opportunity to offer their own health care legislation.

Either of those outcomes will be determined not by Beltway scorekeepers doing play-by-play or pollsters measuring ephemeral moods. Americans will judge by the reality of how Obamacare plays out in our lives.

Further, to end the shutdown is to get back to business. Health care is huge and contentious but not the only issue on America’s plate. Start with an economy that still seems fragile and an outlook with more doubt than can-do, and it’s clear our leaders need to get off the dime and help restore a little faith.

They’re not paying for this impasse. We are.

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