|EL PASO, October 21 - Up in D.C., every lawmaker took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
After the Civil War, a provision to protect the public debt of the United States was put into the US Constitution. It reads:
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion shall not be questioned.”
Amendment X1V, Section 4.
In the last few weeks, Congress shutdown the U.S. government and took the U.S. to the brink of default on public debt. Watching extremists make the U.S. shutdown and near default default, Senator John Mc Cain called those leading the effort ‘wacko birds.” So how did Texas lawmakers vote?
Last week, in the vote on resolutions to re-authorize the public debt of the U.S., in effect, to pay the cost of bills already passed by Congress, every single Republican federal Senator and Congressman sent to D.C. to represent us voted to place the U.S. in default.
What effect would that vote if successful have on Texas? With respect to defaulting on debt, the President called it “insane, catastrophic, chaos.” Warren Buffet likened it to “a nuclear bomb, a weapon too horrible to use.”
Respected economists have calculated repeated crisis associated with just the threat of default as having cost the U.S. economy $700 billion and 900,000 jobs. In August, as a result of chaos in D.C. consumer confidence hit a 31 year low. Just the two weeks of shutdown trimmed 0.3 percent from fourth quarter growth and cost $24 billion.
With 18 military bases and millions of veterans, the shutdown had an immediate affect on civilian workers, veteran’s paychecks and military related programs. In El Paso alone up to 3,700 workers were furloughed.
With five major U.S. Mexico trade corridors carrying 80% of U.S.-Mexico international trade that supports jobs in every Texas community the shutdown had immediate effect on custom inspections and trade. In Houston, the state’s largest daily wrote an editorial titled “Why We Miss Kay Bailey Hutchison” to retract their editorial support for the election of Ted Cruz.
What is now clear to the rest of the U.S. and the world is that Texas has evolved an extreme strain of Republican representation willing to shut down the government if a tiny faction of 40 or so radicals in an elected government of 535 don’t get their way.
Here’s how Texas Republican lawmakers defended their recent votes. When John McCain called leaders of the shutdown “wacko birds” Rep. Louie Gohmert accused McCain of supporting Al Qaeda. When Rep. Randy Neugebauer encountered a war memorial shut down by the initiative he helped to lead, he harangued an innocent park ranger telling her and colleagues that they should be “ashamed of themselves.” Back home, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, anxious to move from far right to fringe in his primary, called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama.
Already, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning to take on TEA party extremists who voted against the Constitution and for default in primary elections around the U.S. In Texas, with a proud military heritage and sizable chunk of international trade, more and more Texans now ask ‘what use to our population, trade or future are extremists who intentionally cancel vet’s checks, cut inspectors at bridges and do billions in damage to our credit around the world?’
As Bill Clinton once said, “elections matter.” Come November, in Texas, the question is this: will voters remember the damage done by radicals up in D.C. long enough to elect lawmakers who will stand with U.S.?
Senator Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, served in the Texas Senate from 1997-2011. During his term, he was named U.S. Public Elected Official of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, National Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology, National Legislator of the US by the American School Health Association and won the MALDEF Matt Garcia Public Service Award.
In Texas, Shapleigh was named the Texas Classroom Advocate of the Year by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Additionally, the Child Crisis Centers of Texas presented Senator Shapleigh with the Texas Advocate for Children Award, and the Texas Equity Center named Senator Shapleigh a "Champion For School Children." Shapleigh was also awarded the Education Leadership Award through the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC).