For the second time in less than twenty years, the United States government has been shut down. Is this the work of some enemy foreign government? A terrorist group? Some alien invaders out of a Hollywood movie? No… the truth is much more comical, if not tragic… our supposed leaders (cringe) shut down our own government. Republicans and Democrats are at it again over the budget and have each determined to hold their breath until blue-in-the-face, no matter what the other consequences may be.
The root cause of this impasse (to put it politely) is the implementation of Obamacare, that massive health program that may or may not benefit someone somewhere but who knows? No single person has ever taken the time nor would likely ever have enough time to actually read all its details and fully consider all its implications. Republican dissenters have rightly pointed this out time and again, fearing it will plunge our staggering economy further into the depths but the problem is they simply don’t have enough votes in Congress to stop the program. Many Republicans could’ve accepted this fact, accepted the new budget and could’ve worked toward gaining seats during the next election cycle, when Obamacare might be eliminated or at least amended… public opinion seemed to favor them on the matter.
Instead of moving on and looking to the future, some Republicans used this issue as an opportunity to shoot their own party in the foot. Senator Ted Cruz, for example, had used this time to gain himself some name recognition despite accomplishing little more than further convince both sides of what they already believe. House Speaker John Boehner could simply allow a straight vote on the budget and there’s a good chance it would pass but apparently he doesn’t wish to anger the extreme elements of the party. Senator John McCain has openly questioned such wisdom (or lack thereof) in his own party but his reputation as a compromiser has turned him into somewhat of a villain in today’s confrontational climate. By stubbornly holding out on the budget these Republican holdouts are turning public opinion against them, despite the fact that the President isn’t enjoying huge approval numbers either.
So here we are… nearly 800,000 federal employees sit at home without pay and not knowing if they’ll ever receive pay. These aren’t Washington big-wigs we’re talking about, these are people who actually work… scientists, law enforcement, health inspectors, etc., unlike those blubberers who got us into this mess. Additionally, stock markets are falling, the dollar has hit an eight-month low and perhaps the most far-reaching consequence of this shutdown is the enormous black-eye the US is suffering. It is becoming more and more difficult to truly think of our nation as the world’s greatest superpower when we are apparently governed by stubborn children. Think back to the eighties under President Reagan… for eight years he worked with a massive Democratic majority in both houses… despite their many differences, compromises were reached… budgets still got passed on time… the economy boomed… Americans beamed with ever-greater pride and felt positive about the future. How very long ago those days now seem.