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Op-ed: Republicans' inaction keeps them the party of no

Published November 23, 2013 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I was surprised to hear that Sen. Mike Lee said in an interview that the Republican Party needs to identify the things that they stand for, and not become known as perpetual whiners and the party of "no."  

I agree, but, Senator, look around you. The GOP is already the party of "no." 

What have Republicans accomplished since taking hold of the majority in the House? I suppose Mike Lee did shut down the government, which, despite being a deeply unpopular, foolish and damaging thing, was at least a tangible result of some action.   

And I guess they did manage to cut funding for food stamps, so happy Veterans Day to the thousands of military families who depend on such assistance to make ends meet during long deployments. 

Every day we see more polls that show the American people want immigration reform. This week, a poll of 20 Republican districts showed that the majority of voters in these districts want immigration reform — including 70 percent who say it's very important that we pass reform, and 76 percent who are in favor of a path to citizenship.

But still, Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Mario Díaz Balart, R-Fla., have refused to bring the immigration bill to the floor. Republicans have had time to deal with immigration reform — it's been a whole year since the election — and haven't acted.

The House could pass immigration reform tomorrow if members wanted to. And yet, Chris Stewart, Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop are happy to sit back and kick the can down the road to some other Congress, some other day, just like they were happy to vote against the continuing resolution that re-opened the government after Mike Lee and Ted Cruz ground everything to a halt. 

It's not just a national Republican problem; we're dealing with it at home, too. Gov. Gary Herbert has been dithering on the issue of expanding access to Medicaid for 18 months now, trotting out one excuse after another as he's confronted with the cold, hard economic fact that the program is a good deal for Utah. 

They're almost as colorful as his excuses about the catastrophic teetering of our education system, or the deplorable condition of our air. Over and over: "No, no, no."  "Not this year," they say, or "It's not the right time."

I have to ask: When is the right time? And why is it not now? Why can't NOW be the time to reform our immigration system? Why can't now be the time to get thousands of uninsured Utahns health insurance — many of them young, in college, and just getting started, like me. 

Why can't now be the time to fix our underfunded schools and get serious about cleaning up our air? Why can't now be the time to tackle all the problems we face? Or at the very least, bring the potential solutions we do have to a vote in the House? Why does it always have to be "no"?

T.J. Ellerbeck is president of the Young Democrats of Utah.






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