Will the children (cleverly disguised as congressmen) ever learn how to play together?
This lurching from one government crisis to the next is getting old -- yet somehow Congress seems to think the American public will put up with this forever.
So, we've got an upcoming budget deadline and after that a debt ceiling deadline.
The Republicans can't seem to figure out that constantly voting for legislation that they KNOW won't pass both houses is not only futile and a waste of taxpayers' time, but is simply stupid. Politics is supposed to be "the art of the possible." Instead, elements of the Grand Old Party are starting to look like domestic terrorists, holding the country hostage if their demands aren't met, and the GOP "leadership" seems unable or unwilling to bring them in line. Democrats may love this, but reasonable Republicans have got to be seriously concerned that the party is going to self destruct just before the next general election -- because right or wrong it's the GOP the public is prepared to blame when the wheels come off and the train wrecks.
A balanced, two-party system of largely centrist parties, where each side needs the other to govern and which creates compromise policies the majority of the rest of the country can reasonably accept, is the ideal. During those times we've achieved it, regardless of which party was technically in power, we've grown strong.
But this insane, childish bickering is hurting. It hurts our self-esteem and weakens us, both domestically and in the eyes of the world.
It hurts our economy. The stock market is terrified of a shutdown and we've already taken one hit with our nation's credit rating because of this congressional clown act. Didn't anybody learn the last time?
With the economy barely recovering -- due we are convinced to the average Joe and Jane business owners on Main Street, not the millionaires in Congress and Wall Street -- suddenly having a whole bunch of regular people not get paid when they're supposed to isn't going to help. Sure, they may eventually be paid (some of them, not all, however), but the landlord wants his rent now, the mortgage company only cares if the payment is on time and the power company will still shut the lights out if they don't get paid when the bill is due.
Plus, a government shutdown actually costs money. It's a principle every American knows, but apparently not the obstructionists in Congress. If you don't make your credit card, power bill, mortgage payments, whatever, on time, the companies to which you owe money tack on "late fees." So it costs you extra not to pay your bills on time, even if you get caught up down the road.
Assuming the government will eventually find a way to pay its bills, the Congressional Budget Office estimates a shutdown will cost about $100 million a day in the equivalent of "late fees." That actually won't cover the reduced costs of wages that won't ever be paid to some government employees while they are involuntarily furloughed -- again. They just take a pay cut, which is added to the pay cuts they've been taking while facing Congress' sequester furloughs. That means they can't spend that money on Main Street. The entire economy takes a hit.
So a shutdown in the name of fiscal responsibility isn't. Anybody who thinks this is brilliant fiscal policy needs to have their head examined (of course, as usual, Congress would exempt itself from that examination).
Eventually however, after the damage has been done, Congress will approve a continuing resolution, meaning the government will run on the same budget it ran on the year before (less sequester, of course), with just a few slight modifications. We've been running the government on continuing resolutions since the Bush administration. Meanwhile, Congress has let little things like, oh, say key provisions of the Farm Bill or early childhood education programs, simply lapse.
Doing their job isn't as important, after all, as making a statement -- even if it's a phoney baloney statement that won't achieve anything but will cost us money.
Congress has become the political equivalent of texting while driving drunk. You just know there's a wreck going to happen at some point down the road. The only question is, how bad and when?
-- Kelly Everitt