Oct 10, 2013
If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?
The clock struck midnight in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, October 1, and the United States Federal government experienced a federal shutdown, a first in over eighteen years. Many backbone government services are suspended for the time being, which will inevitably be a critical hit to many federal-income families. Economists and other political experts are estimating that the government will be back opened by Friday Oct 11, by the latest, but really, no one knows. Whatever your own political opinion may be, here’s a synopsis of the 10 indisputable truths that basically sums up this week’s shutdown-showdown.
1. About 800,000 federal civilian workers were sent home Tuesday, unpaid and furloughed.
The government shutdown means an estimated 41% of federal employees are furloughed. From museum workers to national parks to FDA food inspectors, civilian employees are on temporary leave without pay.
Below is a link to the services that are closed or suspended until congressional leaders can come to an agreement on a continuing resolution (CR).
2. It’s ridiculous that we’re still debating Obamacare.
The Urban Institute calculated in 2008 that some 27,000 Americans between the ages of 25 and 65 die prematurely each year because they don’t have health insurance. And besides, the bill on the Affordable Care Act has been sent and passed….in early 2010. Numerous conventions and legislative meetings have convened since its approval, and even the Supreme Court has deemed it constitutional. There’s been an entire midterm and a presidential election since the bill was approved, leaving much time for debate and negotiation. Congress has to stop wasting meetings debating on what’s already been approved and in effect.
3. House of Representatives? More like House of Republicans.
The House of Representatives is heavily Republican controlled. Republicans have been the obstructionists since they took control of the House in the 2010 elections, voting to delay all bills towards setting budgets until Obamacare is delayed.
4. The Republican party itself is extremely divided.
The Republican party has no moderacy: you’re either right winged or extremely right winged, bordering tea partiers. There is no moderate section of the Republican party. Though both sides want to cut federal spending, the tea party believes that defunding the president’s signature health care policy and slashing deficit spending are causes worth staking a political career on. They claim that that’s what their constituents elected them to do.
5. The Republicans are putting the blame on the fact that Obama and the Democrats are refusing to negotiate a bipartisan approach.
Republicans should know better than to attempt blackmail on the US Senate and the Presidency to get their way. But it’s no longer necessary to negotiate or compromise on this. That’s what the budget negotiations in 2010 were for, when the bill was first passed. Debate on what goes in the bill and whether it is passed or not occurs when the bill was negotiated 3 years ago. We’ve had this discussion before, on numerous occasions, and the GOP’s cannot relitigate these discussions when it comes time to debate budgets. the Democrats have already negotiated a cut of $70 billion dollars from their original request. If that’s not negotiating, then what is?
6. Congressmen are still getting paid….while some federal civilian employees have to work without knowing when their next paycheck is.
Members of Congress will have no such dilemma about the future of their own finances this week because the 27th Amendment to the Constitution specifically stipulates that the salaries of the House and Senate cannot change until a congressional election has come and gone. Members of both chambers currently make $174,000.
To be fair, some have refused their pay (including ten Californian lawmakers! Represent!) or even have gone as far as donating their salaries to good causes, as they should. However, only a total of 121 lawmakers so far have expressed their intentions to donate or refuse compensation. Those with jobs relate to national security— like military personnel—will still have to report to work, as will those who perform essential services like air traffic control, border patrol, law enforcement, banking oversight, and disaster assistance. But their paychecks for work during the shutdown may be delayed until the government is back up and running.
7. It’s not just about Obamacare.
There’s a greater problem at hand, and its fast-approaching, one that is even greater in magnitude than the Affordable Care Act. Debates on the debt ceiling are inevitably looming, bound to create havoc in Congress yet again. House Republicans also vow to oppose an increase in the debt ceiling unless Mr. Obama delays the health care law. It seems like it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Democrats, as the ransom notes just keep playing in the Republican’s favor.