Republicans should raise the so-called debt ceiling

The U.S. government shut down last week, unable to pay its bills. The world’s greatest democracy was brought to a standstill by Republicans in Congress who would rather play Russian roulette with the economy than confront the severe dysfunction the tea-party faction has brought to their party and the nation.

As of this writing, it’s unclear how long the shutdown will last or how much damage it will do. What’s apparent is that even if the current crisis is resolved quickly, there is another potentially more serious one just days away. If the tea partiers make good on threats to refuse to raise the so-called debt ceiling on October 17, the United States would default on its debts for the first time in history, and there is a very real possibility the result could be economic chaos on an international scale.

None of this has to happen. Throughout the standoff in Washington, D.C., it’s been clear that there were more than enough votes to pass a budget and pay the country’s debts—if Republicans in Congress would allow those measures to reach the floor without tacking on anti-”Obamacare” provisions. In effect, the tea-party faction has held the government and the economy hostage, seeking political concessions they’ve been unable to achieve through the electoral process.

This is no way to run a country. It’s time for moderate Republicans to take their party back, reject hostage-taking as a political strategy and work with Democrats to address the nation’s business.