Friday, October 4, 2013

The Shutdown

If you look for them, life bubbles with absurdities.  The current U.S. Federal Government shutdown is one of them.  It's been four days.  Where are the Representatives and Senators who are truly interested in governing and leading?  All we've been seeing are fingers pointing.  Each side points to the other while the Tea Party group sits in the middle grinning.  I imagine that small, very small group in the House of Representatives wears fashionable diapers, shakes rattles, and whoops every time a finger is pointed at anyone else but them.

(From LewisCarroll.org)

Who are these people?  They are idealogues.  They don't like government, and especially not big government.  One wonders why they are in government at all.  They represent the extreme right wing of the GOP, or "Grand Olde Party," i.e. the Republicans, and everything thing they want.  For example, no new taxes, tax cuts especially for the wealthy and corporations, cut Cabinet agencies they believe are no longer necessary e.g. Education, Housing and Urban Development, defund the National Endowment for the Arts, and on and on.  One wonders what they like since they spend their time talking about what they don't like and what they don't want.  They say "No" all the time.  They offer no constructive solutions to the current challenges facing the country.

Above all else, they want to do everything they can to insure that Barack Obama will fail as President, and that he will not be able to pass any more legislation, and the legislation that has passed will be defunded, i.e. the Affordable Care Act.  It is because of this that we are currently enduring the government shutdown. 

I don't expect that anything I say will make any difference to anything.  Why?  Because I am not convinced that members of Congress are really listening to the American people.  They are allowing a small group among them to dictate what happens in Congress.  A small group.  A minority.  The majority chooses to do this why?  You guessed it.  Money.  The Tea Party members happen to be excellent fundraisers and are more than willing to help out their Republican colleagues...for a price.  So that's the power this small group holds over the rest of their political party members in Congress.

Now for the really good part.  The Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010.  President Obama signed it.  When its constitutionality was challenged at the Supreme Court, the justices gave it their stamp of constitutionality.  Portions of the ACA have been in effect for a couple years.  The medical insurance exchanges opened for business on October 1, the same day as the government shutdown.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.  Plus, the ACA is a good law.  It accomplishes something that Congress and every President have been trying to accomplish for over 20 years.  Insurance companies, now that they understand it, love it.  They'll do just fine with it.  So what's the problem?

The Tea Party members view the ACA as an unnecessary government intrusion into the free market.  Well, it actually opens up medical insurance even more to the free market.  They believe that it's an expense the federal government cannot afford -- unlike the shutdown which is costing about $800 million a day.  The ACA is nothing compared to the damage the shutdown is doing to the government and the country financially.  The Tea Party members, those who were elected 2 years ago, have the goal to shut down the government, which they have accomplished. 

Clearly, Tea Party members in Congress are not at all interested in actually doing their jobs.  If they were my employees, they'd be shown the door and escorted out by security. 

What are their duties as a member of Congress?  They are to pay the country's bills, pay down debt, collect taxes, and insure the country does not default on its financial obligations.  They are to establish a budget and distribute the money to fund government activities, including funding the military.  With this shutdown, they are not doing their jobs and they're putting the government and country in a very dangerous position.

Who's going to blink in this standoff?  Who's going to have the courage to do the job?  Who's going to have the courage to govern rather than say no? 

Make no mistake: Americans are not happy with Congress.  I suspect that those Tea Party members who believe that they are safe come the next election may find that they're not.  The Republicans need to take back their political party.  They need to lose the attitude and work with the Democrats to pass a budget.  Do your jobs!

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