The partial government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis are costing the United States billions, even now, after nearly upending the world economy.
We could go through it all again in a few months — unless American business and industry step in. From the mom and pop motel outside Yosemite to General Motors, business leaders need to secure assurances that the Republican Party can control its tea party bullies and prevent another disaster. The health of the U.S. economy depends on it.
The GOP has championed corporate and small-business interests, and it has reaped generous financial support. To survive, the party can't now thumb its nose at those interests. There are not enough ideological extremists to make up the difference in campaign checks or votes.
Nearly every segment of society was harmed by the shutdown. The government itself, far from saving taxpayer money, saw costs increase — in part because it just gave workers a 16-day paid vacation. Talk about wasteful spending.
But it's business leaders that have the ear of the mainstream GOP — and in many ways helped bring the tea party to power. They have an obligation now to repudiate the extremists. They weighed in too late this time, but they can get ahead of the next crisis.
On Wednesday, none other than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued an alert to Congress. “Default will not contribute to an environment which allows Congress to rein in spending,” it said. “Groups calling for default are clearly less interested in the Main Street concerns of businesses large and small; these groups overlook the point that a default would result in creditors demanding a premium on U.S. debt, which would greatly exacerbate long-term debt, deficit and spending issues.”
And business leaders know that if 2014 opens with another shutdown and threat of default, it will cement the notion that the U.S. is an unreliable financial and business partner. Investment by our own companies and other nations will shrink. The country will face another recession.
The harm from just the past two weeks is palpable. Corporations are predicting lower earnings. Small businesses of all kinds are hurting badly. Last week the housing industry reported a slowdown, citing the plunge in consumer confidence. We don't want to think about prospects for holiday spending.
Tea party extremists dismissed Chamber protests, saying that as soon as Republicans got serious about reducing spending, industry got cold feet. Not so. Most business leaders understand that the way to cut the deficit is through negotiation and legislation — not by threatening the foundation of the world economy.
All of this seems clear enough to us. But the GOP is going to have to hear it from those who bankroll Republican candidates: leaders of American business and industry.