House Republicans bluffed while holding nothing, and the U.S. government folded.

Prodded by the small, radical, tea party-backed faction, House leaders attached to a standard government funding bill conditions to stop or delay the Affordable Care Act.

Never mind this act was approved by Congress years ago, signed into law by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Never mind it will provide millions of uninsured Americans with health care coverage.

Never mind it was the central issue in last year's presidential race, and GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost.

Never mind the Obamacare defunding tactics had absolutely no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate or a threatened veto by the president.

House Republicans, driven by their near psychotic obsession with derailing the law, decided to give it another go this week.

This time, they threatened to cut off government services, not to mention paychecks for nearly a million American families, if they didn't get their way.

And they recklessly followed through.

GOP members of Congress can stomp their feet and point fingers all they want, but the American people know who's to blame.

For now, government employees deemed essential are still on the job, but the longer this ridiculous impasse drags on, the less certain the situation becomes.

Ironically, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, the market exchanges, took effect on schedule Tuesday, the first day of the government shutdown.


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The House Republicans look like fools, at best.

No wonder Democrats in Washington are said to be gleeful behind the scenes. This is a gift heading into the 2014 mid-term elections.

Unfortunately, the nuts in the House can inflict even more damage as the debt ceiling looms in a matter of weeks. At risk is a first-ever default on the nation's debt, another downgrade of our credit rating and a blow to not just ours but the world economy.

That is, unless someone reins them in or, more likely, moves on without them.

Given the real danger presented by these radicals, the country can no longer afford the so-called Hastert rule invoked by House Speaker John Boehner.

Under the rule, the speaker will not bring a bill to the floor unless it has the support of a majority of his caucus.

Since Boehner has shown he can't control a group in his party willing to burn the house down if they don't get their way, he needs to cut them loose.

He should, without delay, bring a "clean" spending bill to the House, one without strings attached that will pass with bipartisan support.

For their part, the Democrats should make a commitment to work with reasonable Republicans in the future to make changes to the Affordable Care Act -- ones that will improve it, not weaken it.

But first the GOP has to put the gun down.