Editorial: Principles put before people
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel-Tribune Editor   
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:47
Jan Larson McLaughlin
I'm all for setting high standards, establishing goals and sticking to them.
But lofty principles seem to lose their shine when they are valued above people.
That's what happened last week, when 144 members of Congress voted against a funding resolution that would end the federal shutdown after 16 days. Among those congressmen who voted to preserve his principles was Robert Latta, R-Bowling Green.
It wasn't a surprise that Latta, a devout follower of Speaker of the House John Boehner, was initially in favor of the shutdown as a way to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. But it was surprising that 16 days into the shutdown, Latta chose to side with the hard-line uncompromising tea party faithful rather than those in his party who saw the futility of their efforts and the harm being caused to their constituents back home.
That was disappointing.
For those of us in the media who have covered Latta for decades - first as a county commissioner, then a state legislator, and now a congressman - we don't expect a lot of compromise or creativity in his governing. We did, however, expect some sense of consistency and reason. Even some long-time local conservatives, who would be hard pressed to ever vote for a Democrat, are questioning the logic of continuing a government shutdown that was going nowhere for the politicians and driving citizens to hardships.
I have to wonder who Latta was representing when he cast that "no" vote. It wasn't business leaders who are begging for some certainty in our government. It wasn't the economic development folks who estimate a loss of $24 billion in economic output during the shutdown.
And while people may like the idea of lowering the national debt, most of us outside of Congress are smart enough to know that the best negotiations don't happen when the nation is clutching to the edge of a cliff.
When asked this week to explain his vote, Latta accused Obama and the Democrats in Congress of being unwilling to negotiate.
"They weren't willing to talk about anything," he said.
Latta said he voted four times during the shutdown to keep the government open - but all at the expense of the Affordable Care Act.  He also noted that he voted to reinstate funding for the National Guard and Reserves, the national parks and pediatric cancer research funding - all programs that rightly stirred public outcry.
Let's face it, the likelihood of a challenging race against a Democrat for Latta's congressional district is just a dream to his more liberal constituents. It is more likely that Latta's motivation for his vote was his nightmare of a challenge from a more conservative tea party type candidate.
I'm all for standing up for your principles - but not when you have to trample on the needs of citizens to do so.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 07:50

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