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Markets Take Stock of Capitol Clash

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If you think GOP leaders are catching flak from inside the Capitol, you should hear what the rest of the city is saying! Congress isn’t the only one jittery over a potential budget showdown over Planned Parenthood. K Street, the major thoroughfare in D.C. for corporate lobbing, is a nervous wreck over the possibility that the government’s money could dry up by September 30.

Already, the collective hand-wringing is having an effect on the debate under the dome. “We cannot have another shutdown,” said a spokesman of Financial Services Roundtable. “Don’t do something that disrupts the markets. We’ve got enough volatility right now. It’s okay to have the debate. It’s okay to have the fight. But at the end of the day you’ve got to get the government funded.”

No one, including FRC, wants the government to shut down. But unlike a lot of politicians and investors, we aren’t afraid of it either. Obviously, it is frustrating — this recent pattern of nail-biting, patchwork planning that leaves the entire nation in limbo. Instead of sitting down and plowing through the appropriations process, Congress has gotten in the nasty habit of jumping from one short-term band-aid to another. And every time, it seems to add more powder to an already explosive barrel of issues like Planned Parenthood, which never seem to get the debate that regular order allows. Like most Americans, K Street is tired of it. “We don’t like the annual hostage-taking of the budget for agenda items that should be fought over and solved during the course of regular business,” one analyst said.

Neither do we! This type of dysfunctional governing is no way to run a business — let alone a $5 trillion federal government. But unfortunately, this is where the House and Senate are. And as unsettling as that may be to Wall Street, the videos at the heart of this conflict are far more so. As Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged earlier this week, “The goal here is not to shut down the government, the goal is to stop the horrific practice of an organization selling baby parts.” Big business is too busy counting the financial costs to consider the moral ones.

“Some conservatives are trying to force a showdown over Planned Parenthood,” the Wall Street Journal complained, “but we wish they’d explain how this would benefit the anti-abortion movement or the Republican majority.” As hard as it is for some to grasp, not everything is about political or economic gain. If GOP leaders ignore the warning signs in what I believe to be a critical moment in our nation’s history, they may have K Street’s support — but they won’t be in power long enough to enjoy it. The American people have endured five years of GOP posturing. They want action. Over the next 19 days, the Republican Party has an important decision to make in this struggle for our country’s conscience. Do they side with their base or big business?

Some conservatives have already made that decision, including the House Freedom Caucus who yesterday announced that its 40 members wouldn’t vote for any spending measure that continues to fund an organization that carves up babies for bucks. “Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Big business may be afraid of having this battle, but Congress can’t afford to be. Because at the end of the day, corporate greed shouldn’t drive these leaders’ decision. Moral conviction should.



 

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