Tag Archives: government shutdown

Random Thoughts/Observations On Government Shutdown

Partisans are playing the blame game–pointing fingers and accusing the “other guy” of being responsible for the government’s inability to function.

It seems fairly obvious to me that those in charge–those in power– are most culpable; with the GOP dominating all three branches of Government, trying to lay the blame at the doorstep of the emasculated Dems reminds me of the divorce lawyer who told the judge that her client’s wife was so annoying, she caused  him to beat her. (That’s a true story, by the way.)

A few scattered observations–

  • it is absolutely unconscionable to use children as bargaining chips and hostages. Republicans’ willingness to keep the “Dreamers” in limbo and hold out funding for children’s health in order to play political games is simply despicable. (It’s also stupid: 87% of Americans want DACA reinstated.)
  • Republicans (and a few Democrats) who were willing to ignore the ongoing anguish of 800,000 DACA children in order to fund government for another couple of weeks were either naive (GOP promises to “get to” DACA “soon” were transparent bullshit–especially since Trump’s uninformed demands change daily) or more concerned about perceived political optics than justice for children who depend upon them.
  • Indiana Senator Donnelly was one of those Democrats. Donnelly has been a constant disappointment: he was willing to defund Planned Parenthood (he evidently believes his religious beliefs deserve government support but mine don’t), and he was willing to screw over the Dreamers, presumably because he is (theoretically) a Democrat running for re-election in a red state. Perhaps I’m the one being naive, but I think voters–red or blue–are more likely to reward principled behavior than political pandering. That said, I will vote for Donnelly in November because–acute disappointment though he is–he will cast his first vote to eject Mitch McConnell (aka the most evil man in America) from leadership, and because the Republican Trumpers who want to oppose him are even worse–and in Indiana, a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for the Republican. This will be a “lesser of two evils” choice.
  • If there is a bright spot to the shutdown, it should mean that–at least while government isn’t open for business–the demolition crew that Trump has installed in lieu of competent administrators won’t be able to work on destroying their agencies.

And finally….If we needed any more evidence that the federal government is broken, and that Republicans are disinterested in fixing it, or for that matter, doing anything other than enrich their donors, I think this last year–culminating in this Keystone Kos episode–should provide it.

I know it’s morning, but excuse me while I go pour myself a stiff drink.


Tea Party Priorities

Evidently, the theatrics–make that “tea” actrics–will not end anytime soon.

You may remember that, in 2011, when he was still in Congress, Mike Pence was an enthusiastic leader of that year’s “defund Planned Parenthood or shut government down” effort. It’s 2015, but in the crazy caucus, only the faces have changed. Last week, Indiana Congressmen Young and Stutzman were among those voting to shut down government.

Despite last week’s passage of a short-term “clean” funding measure to keep government open until December, the zealots are still intent upon shutting down government unless Planned Parenthood is defunded, and a not-insignificant number of them say they’ll refuse to raise the debt ceiling when the time comes. (That, of course, would cause a massive default by the U.S. on its obligations, including such obligations as military pay, social security and medicare.)

Given so many Republicans’ willingness to do it again, you’d think the last shutdown (in 2013, over Obamacare) had been a rousing success for the would-be extortionists. It wasn’t–at least, not in what the rest of us call the “real world.”

Indeed, as the zealots prepare to play yet another game of chicken, twenty thousand federal workers are still suing over the last government shutdown, and a recent report by the Congressional Research Service calculated the economic damage done by that fit of pique:

Federal employees worked 6.6 million fewer hours during the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, according to a recent report, with the loss of productivity resulting in a 0.3 percent loss in economic growth.

In other words, sending more than 850,000 federal employees home without pay for at least part of the shutdown took billions of dollars out of the economy.

Although the ideologues refuse to believe it, most government employees work at jobs that actually need to be done. When those jobs don’t get done, the economy slows, hurting everyone.

None of that matters to the zealots. In order to “defund” Planned Parenthood–that is, in order to keep Medicaid from reimbursing the organization for medical services provided to poor women and men (STD tests, breast cancer screenings, birth control pills, etc.), they’re willing to make poor people poorer. And sicker.

Tea Party “patriots” are willing to ignore the reality that there are no other providers with the capacity and reach to substitute for Planned Parenthood, and that defunding the organization would cut off medical care to millions of Americans.

Poll after poll confirms that most Americans support Planned Parenthood, value its services and don’t want to see it defunded. They also don’t want another government shutdown.

Americans would really like to see a Congress that governs rather than postures, but apparently, that’s too much to ask.


If We REALLY Ran Government Like a Business….

I get so annoyed when people say that government should be “run like a business.” Government isn’t a business; the statement betrays a total lack of understanding of what government is and does.

Government should, however, be run in a businesslike fashion–and a Congressman from Minnesota has made a proposal borrowed from the world of business that I absolutely agree should be applied to government as well. According to the Political Animal blog, 

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a bill Friday that would prevent members of Congress from getting paid in the event of a government shutdown.

“It’s time to put an end to government by crisis management,” Nolan said in a statement. “And it’s time for Congress to start living in the real world — where you either do your job — or you don’t get paid. If hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are to go without their salaries — twisting slowly in the wind in a government shutdown — then the Congress should not be paid either.”

Under Nolan’s bill, members of Congress would go unpaid for the duration of the shutdown. He introduced similar legislation during the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 that left 800,000 federal workers furloughed without pay. While his bill never got off the ground, Nolan donated the money he was paid over the shutdown to charities in his district.

As anyone who follows the news is aware, the Crazy Caucus–led by Senator Ted Cruz–is threatening to shut down the government once again if they don’t get their way; this time, “getting their way” means defunding Planned Parenthood and denying basic medical care to millions of poor women (and poor men, who rely on Planned Parenthood for STD testing, among other things).

When union workers strike, they don’t get paid by their employers. Why should We The People–who employ these bozos–continue to pay them while they are refusing to do their jobs?

It’s bad enough that they work a three or four day week for wages hard-working Americans can only dream of. As the blogger, David Atkins, concludes:

If Republicans want to run government like a business, this would be a good way to start. If you don’t do the work you’re supposed to do you don’t get paid.

Makes perfect sense to me.

It’s Not a Game!

Or is it?

From Talking Points Memo:

The reason Congress is mired in repeated fiscal crises is that Republicans have thwarted budget conference negotiations since April, when the two chambers passed their own deeply divergent budget resolutions. Senate Democrats have requested conference negotiations 18 times and Republicans have denied their request each time.

“After blocking Senate Democrats’ attempts to start a budget conference 18 times over the past six months, Republicans are now scrambling to start a conference committee with mere minutes to go before a government shutdown,” said Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA).

I am so tired of self-important bloviators engaging in PR and theatrics at the expense of governing. I’m furious with self-described “patriots” and “Christians” who pontificate about the Constitution and morality, and then proceed ignore both and to play games with the lives and health of ordinary Americans.

And I’m frustrated that the rest of us can’t seem to do anything about it.

Excuse Me While I Hit Myself Repeatedly with a Hammer….

A recent post at Maddowblog began with the following observation:

Since so much of the public has no idea what the debt ceiling is, what default is, what bond markets are, or what the full faith and credit of the United States means, polling on the subject just doesn’t tell us much.

The post went on to describe a different sort of poll that proved the point; it asked about the debt ceiling, but phrased the same question two different ways. When asked simply whether Congress should raise the debt ceiling, respondents were pretty evenly split. The second version asked whether Congress should prevent the government from borrowing money in order to pay its debts;  73% of those responding to the question when it was posed that way said such a step would seriously harm the economy, and opposed it. Only 22% approved.

The American people aren’t stupid. When the question is asked using language citizens understand, they resoundingly offer the right answer. The lesson of this–and multiple other examples–is twofold: (1) the public is generally unfamiliar with the language of its own government, with many equating “raising the debt ceiling” with incurring new debt; and (2) polls that politicians reference to “prove” that the American public is on their side of an issue tend to be worthless and/or deceptive.

Thanks to their own extremism and lack of elementary economic knowledge, the Tea Party zealots who have captured one of America’s major parties and the House of Representatives are poised to do substantial damage to the people they have been elected to represent.

Pundits from both Left and Right (even Karl Rove!) predict that the government crisis they are determined to precipitate will create a backlash that can only hurt the GOP, but those warnings are falling on deaf ears. As a friend of mine used to say, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

The broad, sane middle of the American public will need to batten down the hatches and prepare for a totally unnecessary period of fiscal and economic misery–brought to us by people motivated by one and only one “principle”–ensuring that thirty million Americans currently without health insurance don’t get access to healthcare.

And to make sure they don’t, they’re willing to plunge the country into another recession.

Excuse me while I go hit myself some more with that hammer….