SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
It might surprise people to learn I don’t blame the Executive Branch for the government shutdown. I blame Congress … but maybe not for the reason you think.
The whole thing started in the House of Representatives, where Republicans were trying to stop the Godzilla-sized mess known as Obamacare. It’s shocking – just shocking – that a party supposedly dedicated to smaller government would want to halt one of the biggest federal power grabs in history.
(Although it may never have happened if Congress had addressed real problems in the health care and insurance industries.)
The House did indeed pass a stopgap continuing resolution, but that resolution didn’t fund Obamacare, making it a certainty that it wouldn’t go anywhere. That led to the first official shutdown since 1996, although the question is open whether Washington D.C. has been in a state of shutdown for a long time now.
I know what you’re thinking: If it’s all about Obamacare, couldn’t the Congress have passed a spending bill that covers everything else, not fund or defund the Affordable Care Act, get things running again, then come back to tackle Obamacare later? Hey, there’s an idea.
But that’s not why I blame Congress. (By the way, members of Congress earned over $1,800,000 in the first seven days of the shutdown, while 800,000 federal workers went without pay. I figure President Obama pulled in about $7,690 that week, but my math is notoriously weak.)
Here’s the problem: The Senate has failed to pass a budget – any budget – in over three years. House Republicans did indeed pass budgets in the last three years, but the Senate didn’t follow up. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid didn’t even allow any spending bills to go up for a vote, so for all intents the people we sent to represent us – didn’t.
If they had produced a budget years ago, and if the President has signed it, then all this madness never would have happened in the first place. We wouldn’t have the government spending more money to barricade memorials than if they’d just left them alone; we wouldn’t have the idiocy of spending money on hundreds of traffic cones just to keep people from stopping along the road to see Mount Rushmore. We wouldn’t have the government trying to shut down Mount Vernon, which doesn’t even get federal funds.
The Feds acted out of a spite not seen since the departing Clinton people vandalized the White House – maybe not even since Nixon vandalized the Presidency.
It’s not all their fault, of course, and it’s not all over Obamacare. In fact, arguing over the health care law is pointless – Obamacare is illegal. The Supreme Court jumped through hoops to try and say otherwise, finally rationalizing that the law is a tax. However, the Constitution is very clear that certain bills – stuff that raises your taxes – must originate in the House of Representatives. Obamacare originated in the Senate, so the moment the Supreme Court declared it a tax, it became illegal.
It’s also a mess, but that’s another story. The problems with Obamacare could fill four or five more columns.
(Pundits claim the lawmakers got around this by inserting the Obamacare language into a bill that had already passed the House – a bill that had to do with tax breaks for military homeowners. A shell bill in a shell game, also called fraud … I hope they’re very proud.)
In other words, the Republicans – no paragons of virtue themselves – did the right thing by standing their ground against an illegal and unaffordable law. Unfortunately, they did not do the right thing by letting the government shut down, although as I said earlier it should never have come to that. The Feds – blame whoever you want, but the tactic clearly aided the President – inflicted as much pain as they possibly could in as many public areas as possible, while their definition of “non-essential” was seriously warped.
Meanwhile, by some estimates the shutdown cost more money than if the government kept going … another sure sign that the system is broken, as if there haven’t been enough. All to spend money we don’t have, and defend a law that’s indefensible.
Speaking of indefensible, we then faced still another increase on the debt limit. The dire warning: If we don’t pass it the government might default on its debts.
So? It’s going to default on its debts, anyway. The President and a compliant Congress continue to spend, because they can just print more money that doesn’t really exist. I can print money. Think the Chinese will take that? It can’t continue. I don’t mean that as a protest, but as a prediction: Sooner or later America will go broke (really, we are right now), and it’s just a matter of how much worse Washington can make things before it happens.
The House passed a budget bill that funded the entire federal government except for Obamacare. The other side of Congress, controlled by Democrats, refused to come up with their own bill, and thus the government shut down. Both sides refused to compromise, except to push the whole thing a few months further down the road. The Democrats are happy as can be right now, because they managed to refuse compromise while getting the Republicans blamed for their refusal. Believe me, there are other things to blame the Republicans for.
Since our elected officials have turned into do-nothings – essentially, non-essential – why were they not furloughed? Stop saying your own guy is okay, and throw all the bums out.