Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Congressional schism might be easing

We witnessed an encouraging sign on Oct. 16 that the schism paralyzing the U.S. Congress may be easing. A bipartisan group of 87 House Republicans and 198 Democrats passed the Senate Budget Compromise, which ended the government shutdown and averted a default on United States obligations and a potential international financial crisis.

It was heartening to see 87 Republican representatives rise above their party's shift to rigid, anti-government obstructionism. Rejecting the politics of fear and ideology, they did what was right for our country and the vast majority of Americans. It's a potential re-awakening of the democratic process through which we can mutually promote and enhance the common good.

However, the disruptive threat of the extreme right wing is still present. Even our own U.S. Rep. Greg Walden apparently bowed to tea party pressure by voting "No" on Oct. 16.. (The Club for Growth is supporting a primary challenge to Walden at www.primarymycongressman.com.)

On the other hand, wealthy Republican business donors like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are now alarmed by the threat of a U.S. default. They are unnerved at the recklessness that threatens to tear down the entire economy and scuttle their golden egg.

The wealthy 1 percent have profited greatly from productivity increases from globalization, automation, and union busting over the past 35 years. They have, shortsightedly, enjoyed the low wages they pay, as the rest of us fight over ever-fewer family wage jobs. And they have tolerated absolutist, tea party hard-liners to protect their low taxes and loose government regulation. Perhaps they will now step in and promote needed rational behavior.

The Oct. 16 agreement also opened up negotiations between the House and Senate on the FY 2014 budget. (According to PolitiFact.com, these budget negotiations have been blocked since April by Senate tea party Republicans, who feared they might lead to much-needed tax increases.) Possibly, the current House-Senate budget conference will make a further positive step toward ending legislative gridlock.

Let's encourage Rep. Walden to join moderate, rational Republicans, renounce the anti-democratic minority, and follow the bipartisan precedent of Oct. 16.

Marshall McComb

Baker City