John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives had this to say at a news conference last week;
“Let’s all be honest, if you shut the government down, it’ll end up costing more than you save because you interrupt contracts. There are a lot of problems with the idea of shutting the government down. It is not the goal. The goal is to cut spending.”
His Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Leader Harry Reid chimed in with this;
“I’m happy to say that negotiations toward a compromise are moving forward. Not as fast as I would like, but they are moving forward.”
And even the President himself, Barack Obama made his opinion known, when he said;
“We know that a compromise is within reach. And we also know that if these budget negotiations break down, it could shut down the government and jeopardize our economic recovery.”
So if everyone is saying the same thing and the need to continue funding the government is evident, why are we facing a potential government shutdown on Friday of this week? The answer is simple… The Teaparty.
One of the self-appointed leaders of the Teaparty, Congressman Mike Pence had this to say;
“If liberals in the Senate want to play games and shut down government rather than make a down payment on fiscal discipline, I say shut it down.”
The problem is one of compromise, or lack thereof. When campaigning for the 2011 mid-term election, Republicans promised the Teaparty the moon, the stars, and even a small section of the galaxy they can rename Teabaggers-ville. Another promise was to cut the federal budget by $100 billion – another far-fetched promise, but one that fell within the teaparty’s requirement to reign in federal spending at all cost. Given these promises from Congressional Republicans, the teaparty voted in masses, putting the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, and gaining seats in the Senate.
Now, four months after Republicans have gained power, the teaparty is looking for Teabaggers-ville. They want what was promised to them and thus far, the Republicans haven’t paid up. Not because they don’t want to, but because they simply can’t.
When President Obama came out with his budget, it included additional spending of $41 billion. John Boehner and his fellow Republicans in congress cried foul, demanding that the president review his proposal. He did, and came back with $33 billion in cuts. But this wasn’t enough for the Boehner and the Teaparty, who voted for, and approved a House budget with at lease $61 billion in cuts.
The adults in the room couldn’t agree on a final budget, so two separate CRs (continued resolutions - temporary spending agreements) were put into place. We are now just five days before the second CR expires, and everyone involved is saying the right thing. Everyone, that is, except the Teaparty.
What happens in the event of a government shutdown? Slate reports;
Certain necessary activities would continue—anything related to defense, inpatient or emergency medical care, air traffic control, securing prisoners, or disaster assistance, for instance. But legally, federal agencies would have to wind down nonessential business. That means hundreds of thousands of employees would go on furloughs, from the Treasury to Health and Human Services to the Department of Education, to be paid whenever a continuing resolution passes. Thousands more contractors would just lose their gigs. Parks would shut down. Offices would clear out. Phones would go unanswered.
Nobody knows exactly how it would shake out, not just yet. The president has broad discretion to decide what counts as necessary and what does not, says Stan Collender, a longtime budget expert and a partner at Qorvis, a D.C. communications firm.
But everyone dreads the prospect. The last time the government shut down was during the Clinton administration. For five days in November 1995 and 21 days between December 1995 and January 1996, the lights went off. In the first shutdown, 800,000 workers stopped heading into the office. In the second, about 284,000 stayed at home, with an additional 475,000 working on “non-pay status.” These were not just pencil-pushers either. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave up on monitoring the outbreak of diseases. Workers at 609 Superfund toxic-waste sites stopped cleaning up.
Another promise the Congressional Republicans made to Americans was job creation. Based on the information presented above, it seems that shutting down the government is not the best way to create these jobs. If the Teaparty is truly for fiscal responsibility like they would haver us believe, they will ask their congressional representatives to do what’s right for the economic longevity of this nation, not shutting down the government to fulfill some empty campaign promise.
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