Still no deal

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires

An exasperated Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a media call Tuesday that “Americans should be madder than hell,” that Congress can’t cut a bipartisan deal to reopen the U. S. government and avoid a default Thursday by raising the country’s debt ceiling.

He blamed a small group “of reckless members in the House” for continuing to stand in the way of an agreement proposed by the Senate that seemed to be moving forward late last night and this morning. Warner said he remained “hopeful” that the GOP-controlled House would agree to a bipartisan deal, yet,  “this thing has been up and down on an almost every two-hour basis. I’m still hopeful, but I have to tell you there seems to be a small group of reckless members in the House who says if we don’t add on five to eight extra items, we’re going to say to say no …’’

Meanwhile the clock is ticking down. ”We’re down to the last 40-some hours until America enters into completely uncharted territory,” Warner said. “The damage that’s being done each day by this political crisis is unprecedented.”

So far the 15-day partial government shutdown has cost the economy about $20 billion in gross domestic product, or goods and services, according to an estimate made public Tuesday by Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics.
“The damage to our economy … the damage to taxpayers, the fact that our international reputation as being viewed as fiscally responsible is in jeopardy. People are dumping short-term treasury notes, driving up interest rates,” Warner said, and nonfriendly nations are saying, “Let’s get rid of the dollar as the reserve currency.”

Warner urged action, saying, “Let’s stop this crazy act … We can’t do this this every three months. We have to recognize no more punts. We need to do bigger deals that deal with entitlements and tax reform and avoid replaying this same political drama every three to months.”

Asked what he was hearing from constituents, Warner said his call volume was actually down. “The debt debacle, the fiscal cliff, every time at the eleventh hour, something has happened. We’ve inured people to think that something is going to happen. This time, I think the wolf is at the door.”

Even if both sides could reach an agreement today, the actions of getting a deal down on paper and getting it passed by both Houses will push the country right to the edge of the Thursday Oct. 17 deadline of running out of money to pay its bills, Warner said.

Even with an 11th-hour deal, the damage is done, he added. “It will still cost the taxpayer money, because we’ve lost time. Contractors may not be fully paid and what about the private businesses? The people on Skyline Drive that have lost two weeks of prime business … The behavior of some of these people up here is so reckless. I’ve never seen this kind of behavior from people who are supposed to be in favor of running the American government,” he said.

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