This season’s budget showdown has been extraordinary in the sense that the actions by Congress and the White House are mind-bogglingly irresponsible and near-sighted.
The first government shutdown in 17 years is very real — and it absolutely should not be.
A government shutdown means closing multiple federal government agencies, resulting in 800,000 employees going without pay. Departments considered vital to national security, as well as the U.S. Postal Service and those who manage benefits such as Social Security, will not be shut down.
Not only will a government shutdown halt pay to federal employees, it will severely damage the morale of the nation and project a very bad domestic image to the rest of the world. This is the opposite effect a nation’s leaders are supposed to have on events.
The past few weeks were riddled with debate over what far-right Republicans deem to be the worst thing since slavery: Obamacare.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, this marks the 40th attempt to repeal Obamacare since its passing in 2010. Despite consistent efforts by the conservative coalition in Congress, the law was passed, upheld by the Supreme Court and helped President Barack Obama’s re-election last fall.
Since the beginning of Obamacare, far-right members of the Republican Party made it clear that they would do whatever it took to prevent this piece of legislation from getting passed. In doing so, years of time that could have been used to negotiate, compromise and bring the law to a more acceptable form were sacrificed by this seemingly ideological standoff.
Fast forward to Oct. 1, the day Obamacare enrollment opens, and we’ve seen a party frantically scrambling to make good on promises to completely repeal the health care law, promises that should never have been made in the first place.
After five years of this quixotic quest, the basket bears no fruit.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and President Obama made it clear that they would not negotiate while the debt ceiling and budget were in play as bargaining chips against Obamacare. The Democratic leaders have stuck to these claims. As a result, the Republican Party is left with furrowed brows, squinty eyes and a face that reads “Shoot.”
By taking this route, the strongly conservative Tea Party faction within the Republican Party demonstrates just how strikingly asinine they have been at political strategy and maneuvering. They have continually damaged the conservative reputation in Congress.
Regardless of an eventual resolution, the damage to the conservative identity is done — with approval ratings dropping to 10 percent, largely because of the Tea Party’s crusade in the House right now.
The Tea Party movement is almost entirely comprised of ideologically stubborn constituents that would leave the country before voting a Democrat into any office, much less the House, Senate or presidency.
With this in mind, why would elected officials pander to these voters? It’s political suicide.
As a whole, Congress needs to get its act together. A financial crisis every six months is not something that the American voters elected these officials to do.
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