Grown-ups took the hard vote | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Grown-ups took the hard vote

Political extremists can thank the centrists for backing imperfect but necessary legislation

Posted: August 2, 2011 - 8:31pm

Who says liberals and conservatives can’t find common ground?

The two most conservative members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and the two most liberal members, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., all voted no on the crucial House bill that prevented the U.S. from entering into default. 

There’s probably never been an odder group of bedfellows than that Minnesota foursome. Most days it would be doubtful they could reach consensus on whether the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. 

The measure was approved in the Senate on Tuesday and signed by President Barack Obama just hours before a deadline that would have ceased the government’s authority to borrow money.

I’ll give the four debt bill opponents the benefit of the doubt — that they were voting their conscience. However, there’s no question they were influenced by their most strident supporters who either thought the bill was an insufficient budget-trimming measure for a bloated federal government or a sell-out to extremists who were holding the U.S. economy hostage for political ends.

The “no vote” foursome can go back to their supporters and say they fought to the bitter end for their principles and it passed over their objections. And, as an added bonus, they won’t suffer the wrath of Americans for plunging the U.S. economy further into the tank. They won’t have to take that hit because House leaders and the White House made sure there were sufficient votes to raise the debt ceiling at the last minute, just as it had been raised time and time again under Republican and Democratic presidents.

Must we go through such perilous political posturing and gyrations before the voices of the adults in the room are heard and our government performs basic functions such as paying its debts? 

Granted, this is no time for business as usual. The federal government has to take action to reduce its debt and meet obligations to both its creditors and its own citizens. But as in every major decision, whether it’s business, parenting or politics, there’s a time when we expect decision-makers to do what’s best for everyone involved and not just their own interests.

The two Republicans and two Democrats who voted no on lifting the debt ceiling failed that test.

 

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at mike.orourke@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5860.