Voters won’t forget GOP shutdown

For the first time since the 2010 elections, the American people have seen what it looks like when the radical Tea Party philosophy comes to life. And it’s ugly: The 16-day government shutdown, the brinkmanship over defaulting on the country’s debt, the delays in passing aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, the fiscal cliffs, the interminable list of crisis after Republican-manufactured crisis.

The American people are rejecting this irresponsibility with record anger and frustration.

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The truth is, the American people are tired of the Republican Congress derailing our economy and jeopardizing their jobs.

There is an insatiable hunger among voters for representatives who will work together on solving our problems and focus on creating jobs.

That’s why the 2014 elections will be a referendum on this Republican Congress, and that is bad news for House Republicans.

Their recklessness and dysfunction threaten middle class families’ financial security and stability, and culminated in the Republican shutdown that shuttered the government for the first time in 17 years. The shutdown battle — waged by House Republicans to satisfy Tea Party demands and defund the Affordable Care Act — has reshaped the national environment against Republicans, fueled a surge in Democratic recruitment and allowed House Democrats to drive deeper into Republican territory in 2014.

Members of the public have been clear for some time that they are not happy with House Republicans, but the shutdown fight put Republicans’ antics front and center, laying bare congressional Republicans’ irresponsible agenda and revealing a deeply flawed set of priorities. House Republicans would rather put millionaires ahead of the middle class, put their radical base ahead of bipartisan solutions, put insurance companies ahead of health benefits for families, and put tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil ahead of our seniors.

The shutdown fight put these wrong priorities on full display, and the damage their shutdown inflicted on the Republican brand will stay in voters’ minds through the 2014 elections and beyond.  The case is being made by Republicans themselves to end their majority, and with voters hungry for change, problem-solving Democratic candidates are stepping forward to give voice to Americans’ frustrations.

Candidates who had been cautious about undertaking a campaign are getting off the sidelines as they see firsthand the cost of the Republican shutdown on families in their communities, and they worry about what the future will look like with even more crises.

While the environment might ebb and flow over the next year, the quality of our candidates will not. Recruiting practical problem solvers now will have a lasting impact on the depth and breadth of the 2014 battlefield, and will give voters in all corners of the country a clear choice on next November’s ballot.

Democrats are ready, willing and able to find middle ground, and work across the aisle in good faith to grow our economy and create good jobs, and that is the contrast we will put on the ballot in 2014.

Voters will have a clear choice between reasonable candidates with common-sense ideas to address our nation’s problems and those who want a continuation of the cliffs and the chaos, who are willing to cost us jobs and economic growth to further their partisan obsessions. I believe that when voters see this stark choice, they will stand with us and elect more Democratic problem solvers next November and send packing those who put partisanship ahead of solutions.

Israel has represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District since 2001.