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Editorial: Extremists weaken party

Rep. Andy Harris, R-District 1, isn't being totally honest with himself, or the people he was elected to serve, with his reasons for not voting for the bill that ended the government shutdown and temporarily suspended debt ceiling limits.
In a statement following his no vote, Harris said, "I cannot support a package that continues spending at a level that does nothing to reduce the 650 billion dollar deficit this year or deficits in future years, continues an exemption from Obamacare requirements for members of Congress and continues accounting gimmicks. I have voted three times to fully fund and over a dozen times to partially fund parts of the government. This government shutdown occurred because the Senate and President insisted on special treatment for large corporations and for themselves and their staff. Unfortunately, the Senate bill addressed neither. It just kicks the can further down the road."
In issuing that statement, Harris continues the lie that Democrats would not negotiate. The reality, as all of America knows, is that the shutdown occurred because Harris and his tea party allies insisted that any funding bill included a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act.
In fact, many moderate Republicans saw the budget crisis and debt ceiling as an opportunity to get some of the exact concessions that Harris said he was holding out for to cut spending and reduce the debt. And the reality is that they likely would have gotten a lot of what they wanted had Harris and his group not held the entire nation hostage with their no negotiation stand and demands that they get their way.
House Speaker John Boehner twisted for weeks trying to come up with a solution that would appease tea party extremists, but to no avail. Nothing short of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would appease this group, and they made that clear with their rejection of each of Boehner's proposals.
In his zeal to appeal to his extremist buddies, Harris essentially said that he would rather destroy the country than not get his way. And in the end, when default on our debt was just hours away, Harris cast his vote that, if successful, would have done just that.
As it stands, the economy has suffered a huge setback, and prospects for the coming months are dimmer, putting more businesses at risk and more people on edge. Harris may be fooling himself, and perhaps that small group of extremists to which he caters, but the majority of the country - as reflected in multiple polls - knows why the latest crisis occurred. His actions are why the Republican Party has sunk to all-time lows in approval ratings, and it is why, heading into the next round of budget fights, the party is on weaker ground than it was before.

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