- Ada, Oklahoma

October 14, 2013

We have been here before; we will be here again

Shannon Lowry Managing Editor

Ada —

It amuses me to read that the U.S. government has “shut down,” when, in fact, only parts of it — the “non-essential parts” — have been temporarily suspended. Make no mistake, those parts of the government will re-open and its employees will return to work — it’s only a matter of time.

The holdup, as you all know, is the galactic paralysis in Washington between and among the House, the Senate and the White House. All of this is allegedly over Obamacare (officially known as the Affordable Care Act), which is now the law of the land and went into implementation last week. Republicans (or, let’s face it, the tea party) want the law repealed, or at least to renegotiate parts of it, which seems to me futile as the second sentence in this paragaph explains. Like it or not, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.

I say “allegedly” because we all know what the politicians are truly doing — posturing, creating drama, posing for the cameras, and making themselves look good for their constituents (voters and financial backers). They’re still getting paid (I don’t believe for a moment that some pols are donating their checks to charity — I’ll have to see some proof of that). Their staffers are still getting paid. They’re still issuing self-serving press releases. None of that machinery has “shut down.” You and I are still funding those mechanisms with our taxes.

What amazes me is the absolute stupidity that reigns in D.C. (I know it always has, but this is ridiculous.) For instance, did no one realize that death benefits paid to families of service men and women might be negatively affected by a shut down? Well, they were. How’s that for thoughtlessness? A private charity will be making those payments until Obama and Boehner and their respective henchmen can cobble together some kind of deal to fund D.C. for the next few months.

That’s a fact, by the way — the government has no money. It’s been operating without a budget since 2009. Maybe the Salvation Army can come up with some funding for the Air Force.

It also amuses — and amazes — me that some people actually seem to think we are saving money with the temporary closure of these offices. We’re not saving any money. Furloughed federal workers will eventually receive full back pay. Let me repeat — they’re going to get paid for days missed. If this thing drags out 40 days, they’ll get paid for those 40 days. (Though I am curious about their benefits — federal benefits are the best in the world and I can only assume that furloughed workers still have their health insurance.)

It will also cost money to re-open federal offices. So what, exactly, are we saving?

Ah, it has been argued that parts of the government deserve to be closed (temporarily) out of the principle of the thing. Really? What principle is served when hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers get paid regardless? We’re talking about an indefinite vacation — not a reduction in the size of government.

And who will furnish the funding for their retroactive pay? You and me, with our taxes — which, by the way, we continue to pay. No “shutdown” for us taxpayers! We continue to foot the bill for public offices and lands we now have no right to access — thanks to our elected representatives.

All of this is to say the “shut down” is not doing anybody any good. It’s not serving any purpose. It isn’t saving the country any money. It isn’t teaching anybody a lesson about big government. It hasn’t reduced the size of government — those offices still exist! 

What must our enemies think of our divided house?

Who is to blame, Obama or Boehner? I can’t say what difference it makes at this point. Both represent the federal government. Each is equally responsible. Neither has shown a lick of common sense in this situation. Neither party has the country’s “best interests” in mind. You want to end big government? You want to save the nation some real bucks? Close down all of the government — permanently. That includes the Armed Services. Shutting down parks and FDA and DHHS — while still raking in taxes — isn’t accomplishing that particular task.

Not that I advocate shutting down the entire government or the Armed Services. I’m saying, you want small government, you want to keep more of the money you make, shut it all down and find a way to fight terrorism on your own.

I’m sure Congress and the White House will find a way to reopen these offices and fund government at least through Christmas. They always do, after much grand-standing on one or two cable news channels. It won’t be a good deal but it’ll make everybody feel better — temporarily. Sort of like a Continuing Resolution of good will.

I’m really not cynical. I just haven’t forgotten the budgetary games that Congress and the President have played over the last few years. We have been here before; we’ll be here again.