David McKinley: The Republicans and a call to negotiations
If you were selling your house, would you hand over the title and keys to someone before negotiating a price?
Of course you wouldn't.
Yet that is what President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are demanding. They are insisting the House pass a "clean" continuing resolution and debt limit increase, saying pass those first and they will negotiate later.
From past results, we know those negotiations will never happen. That's why we are seeking budget talks now.
According to the President and his allies, the impasse over the budget is about "the Republican obsession" with Obamacare. This is false.
This debate is about improving the economy and creating jobs for American families. The health care law is merely one of the largest and most pressing challenges standing in the way of job creation.
Coupled with other issues, such as excessive regulations and a broken tax system, the health care law has emerged as a significant factor holding the economy back.
For example: under the health care law, delivery truck drivers are seeing their hours cut from 40 hours a week to 29.5. A young family entering the health care exchange will be paying higher premiums. And the cost of pacemakers and artificial hips will increase due to a new tax.
These are real impacts that will mean less money for families to pay for groceries or gas or their mortgage.
Fixing the health care law would have an immediate impact on our economy.
With millions of Americans looking for work and participation in the workforce at its lowest rate in 35 years, we can ill afford more barriers to economic growth.
The House has been focused on addressing the economy for the past two years. Since 2011 we have passed more than 40 bills to improve our economy and create jobs.
Unfortunately, the Senate has not taken up any of these bills. The fact that they refuse to even discuss or negotiate on these issues is nonproductive.
President Obama claimed last week that he won't negotiate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will not negotiate. How can we fix our problems if we aren't talking to each other?
In fact, on Monday a White House advisor said they would rather default on our debts than negotiate. That is just unreasonable.
The House passed four measures that would have kept the government running and treat all Americans fairly under Obamacare. Senate Democrats rejected all four.
The House appointed budget negotiators. Senate Democrats rejected even that.
Consequently, the House voted last week to fund vital programs while waiting for the President and Senate to come to the table to discuss the budget:
n Ensure our National Guard gets paid and veterans receive their benefits, including disability claims.
n Fund research for lifesaving medical innovations and cancer cures at the National Institute of Health.
n Fund nutrition programs for low-income women and children.
n Provide retroactive pay for furloughed federal workers who have been unfairly hurt by the shutdown.
Remarkably, the Senate has refused to take any of these measures up.
In the coming days the House will continue to focus on priorities like the security of our nuclear weapons and Head Start programs for disadvantaged children.
Rather than acting responsibly, the Senate has refused to fund these important services and begin negotiations.
Instead, the President and the Senate are more interested in scoring political points. Last week a senior Obama administration official said it did not matter how long the shutdown lasted because the White House "was winning."
This isn't a game. Responsible leaders should be less focused on scoring political points and winning the public opinion battle, and more focused on reopening the government and addressing the economic challenges we face.
If the President and Senator Reid are unwilling to negotiate to make the health care law work, what can we expect in addressing other economic issues like taxes and regulations?
Negotiations are necessary in all aspects of life — family life and business — this situation is no different.
The American people want action and solutions, not political chest thumping.
McKinley, a Republican, represents West Virginia's first U.S. House district.