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In Lower Manhattan the mobs of tourists are no longer coming to spend their money before and after seeing the Statue of Liberty. The African Burial Ground is closed. So is Federal Hall where George Washington was sworn into office, and his namesake city has reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction.
The closed monuments caused by the government shutdown have damaged our economy, but the far greater damage is being done to our nation’s poor, particularly children, who rely on things like food stamps — an undeniable economic simulant — and Head Start.
The blame falls entirely on the Republican members of Congress, some of whom campaigned on promises to shut the government down.
Democrats have agreed to continue “sequester level” budget cuts, the same ones that Republicans also described as terrible not too long ago.
The Republican-controlled House has passed measure after measure that members know will not pass the Democratically-controlled Senate. The Senate’s bill, on the other hand, would open the government entirely and by all appearances, would pass the House if only Speaker Boehner would allow a vote. Boehner says the Senate bill would not pass, but it is a claim without credibility since he can’t explain why he won’t bring the bill to the floor.
Some Republicans, including Boehner, sound ready to not raise the debt limit before the deadline. Economists can’t predict how calamitous the consequences would be if the debt limit is not raised next week, but the overwhelming consensus is it would be devastating.
The latest Washington mess comes from the G.O.P.’s obsessive desire to roll back the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the leaders in this effort, has admitted that when Obamacare is fully implemented in two months, Americans will like it so much that it will be impossible to be undone. He compared the law to people’s love of sugar. Mitt Romney made the same admission after he lost last year’s presidential election saying the plan was such a “gift” to so many people that it made it hard to defeat President Obama.
Republicans once cared about helping the economy but those days are getting harder to remember.
It is long overdue for Republican members of Congress to start caring about the American people a little bit more than they hate Barack Obama.
Get rid of runoffs
Two qualified candidates for public advocate faced off in a runoff last week, with Councilmember Letitia James defeating State Senator Daniel Squadron.
The turnout was extremely low — only 187,000 of the party’s 3 million registered Democrats went to the polls.
Meanwhile, the cost of the city’s running the runoff, $13 million, far exceeds the small budget of the Public Advocate’s Office, $2.3 million.
All of which raises the question whether runoffs for citywide offices should be abolished in favor of so-instant runoffs, where voters rank the candidates.
Currently, if no citywide candidate garners 40 percent of the vote in a primary, there is a runoff between the top two finishers.
The instant runoff is the better option, since it would undoubtedly insure more participation, and it would save the city from having to hold these extremely low-turnout contests, while — importantly — saving millions of dollars.
Under this alternative, voters would rank their top choices and if no candidate secured 40 percent, the bottom candidates would be knocked out and their votes allotted to the other candidates based on the rankings. The candidate who appeals to the most voters would win, which is not always the case under the current system.