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Susan Estrich: This is nuts


Susan Estrich



Actually, as best I can tell, it's not nuts: The FDA folks who are in charge of inspecting nut factories aren't working. Did someone say salmonella? Yes, we have a chicken problem, and it's not clear whether those folks are working, either. Apparently, the CDC has recalled some people to deal with salmonella, but flu is another matter. Seafood and produce from outside the country? That appears to be a no. Stay away from national parks. Waiting on a home loan? Wait. Small-business loan? Nope. 


Meanwhile, the games continue in Congress. 


The Republicans try to pick and choose, finding popular parts of the government and saying let's just reopen these. The Democrats say no, we can't do it that way, we'll be here in December picking and choosing, and the IRS will never reopen, so it's all or nothing. Both sides know these games accomplish nothing. But then, hey, this shutdown is accomplishing nothing, except to make you think twice before you head into the grocery -- and to turn the lives of people who depend on a government paycheck upside down. 


Luckily for those playing these games, the gym in the House of Representatives is still open. So they can work up a sweat after they play games with people's lives. 


Of course, it's good news that the soon-to-be former Speaker John Boehner is going to try to avoid the total meltdown that would come about if the United States were to default on its obligations. Even so, it's hard not to feel like the bond market is getting protection while those of us who spend more time in the supermarket are left to fend for ourselves. 


By the way, since the whole purpose of this is to protest Obamacare, it's worth pointing out that, for better or worse, sometimes smoothly and sometimes not so smoothly, Obamacare is up and running. And the problems with the program -- and there are problems, there is much that needs to be done there -- well, no one is focused on trying to actually fix things. How pedestrian. Seems like folks in Washington would rather play games. 


The Republicans are the ones who are really taking it on the chin in this one, according to the polls, and they should. It's the Republicans, not the Democrats, who decided to shut down the government as a purely symbolic protest against a health care plan that they failed to defeat in any legitimate way -- say, by not reelecting the president for whom it's named. 


In the old days, the Republicans were the party of business, big and small. But this shutdown business is not good for business, and the business community seems to be recognizing, finally, that this is not the Republican Party that they've supported for years. "Who are these people?" people keep asking me, as if I know. 


I was at Harvard Law School last week, which is Sen. Ted Cruz's alma mater, as well as the president's, and I can't tell you how many people told me the story about how Cruz the law student wouldn't allow classmates who hadn't attended top Ivy League colleges into his study group. Man of the people? Nope, not him. 


It's a disgrace, pure and simple. If you ran a company this way, you wouldn't be running it for long. The idea that this is somehow helping Republicans "position themselves" for 2016 is ludicrous. No one is going to have fond memories of this shutdown. Those who are seen as responsible for it will never get the votes of the majority of Americans who have no patience for grown men and women acting like spoiled children playing games. 


In the meantime, what can you and I do? Go to the farmers' markets and buy local produce. Shake our heads. Not much else. But the day of reckoning will come.



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