US SENATORS John McCain and Lindsey Graham address a news co.
(photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
WASHINGTON – Leaders of the Republican Party conceded defeat on Wednesday night
after mounting a harrowing two-week fight over the cost of the US healthcare
The party shut down the government in the process and brought
America to the brink of default with little to show for it.
federal shutdown cost the United States roughly $1.5 billion a day and ended
hours before the Treasury Department was to lose its authority to
“We’ve been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring
government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House of
Representatives Speaker John Boehner told a local radio outlet, referring to the
Affordable Care Act.
“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t
US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that there were no
winners from the exercise in political brinkmanship, in a passionate speech from
the State Dining Room of the White House.
“You don’t like a particular
policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out
there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it,” the
president said. “There was no economic rationale for all of this.”
said the scale of the damage from the crisis was not yet fully known. But
bruises began to show on Thursday morning, as one leading Chinese ratings agency
downgraded America’s credit rating.
“The fundamental situation that the
debt growth rate significantly outpaces that of fiscal income and gross domestic
product remains unchanged,” Dagong said in a statement, lowering the US rating
from A to A-.
Republican Sen. John McCain called efforts to shut down the
government by his Tea Party colleagues a “fool’s errand.” He said that the
Republican Party faces its highest disapproval ratings in 20 years after
appearing to manufacture the crisis, which seemed to large majorities of
Americans to be without aim or strategy.
Ultra-conservative members of
the party said they wanted to fund the entire government except healthcare
reform. But this was not within their power – the Affordable Care Act designates
healthcare a vital service, like Medicaid and Social Security, and it cannot be
defunded through the budgetary process.
A registration website and
hotline for the Affordable Care Act were rolled out during the shutdown, and the
deal ultimately reached on Wednesday made only cosmetic references to healthcare
“Was their temper tantrum worth $24b.? I don’t think so,” House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday, citing Standard & Poor’s
estimates of how much the crisis cost.
Obama outlined future battles with
House opposition in his speech, challenging the weakened Republican Caucus to
address immigration reform, an issue that political analysts believe will
benefit Democrats in elections if Republicans fail to unite behind
More than 800,000 furloughed government workers went back to work on
Thursday, expecting back pay for their two weeks off.
thanked them for their service, adding, “What you do is important. And
don’t let anybody else tell you different.”