By DONNA BRAZILE
In the last hours of the government shutdown, the bizarre got even more bizarre. Progressive clergy and low-wage workers affected by the shutdown visited more than a dozen House offices and left a “consensus” letter from religious groups: “As people of faith and conscience, we urge you to place shared democratic values above short-term political expediency, exercise the courage to fund our nation’s government, raise the debt limit without preconditions and get back to work on a faithful budget that serves the common good.”
As they walked the halls of Congress, they sang the traditional hymn of faith, kindness, charity and redemption, “Amazing Grace.”
About the same time, House Republicans, to bolster their resolve to crash the economy, were also singing “Amazing Grace.”
But there was nothing gracious or graceful about Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare, which, whatever its flaws, helps the ill, the indigent and the economy.
But the tea party/Republican shutdown hurt the economy. Standard and Poor’s, one of the world’s top financial research and ratings agencies, said the constitutional brinksmanship took $24 billion out of the economy and shaved our annual growth by nearly a full percentage point. “If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse,” S&P said, “they’ll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks. That points to another humbug holiday season. ... The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the U.S. economy.”
And it cost us jobs. One study by Think Progress estimates 900,000 jobs have been lost from austerity cuts. Polls show Americans’ confidence in their government has plummeted -- though not as far as their trust in elected officials.
We could use some more graciousness, civility and kindness. The acrimony and avarice corrupting Washington have infected the hearths of America.