Thursday, October 03, 2013

My two cents: Government shutdown ... so what has been accomplished?

So here we are on Day 3 of the Government Shutdown. Nothing has been accomplished and there's no end in sight.

There's enough blame to go around on all sides of this debacle but the show horses of the Republican Right, led by Ted Cruz and encouraged by Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, got their way even though past history predicted a train wreck.

If Mr. Cruz had been paying attention, he would have realized the backlash was going to be against him. From all accounts, he entered the battle without a survival plan or exit strategy. If this was to help pad his presidential hopes, it certainly didn't show good leadership skills. A poll before the shutdown showed 71 percent of Americans were against it, and a poll released after the shutdown showed 72 percent of Americans were against it. Clearly, it was going to be a suicide mission for Republicans.

The problem with these kinds of stunts is the unintended and unexpected consequences that emerge and hit mainstream media and social media. The Washington Post today lists ten of the more serious ones.

For some, the thought of being furloughed without a paycheck is a scary proposition. Imagine having a mortgage, car payment(s), and daily living expenses only to lose your income or have it delayed. Sure, the investment types talk about having six months' worth of income bankrolled for a rainy day, but how many have truly been able to do that? With the constant financial demands of raising a family, many find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Military families are impacted and commissaries were shut down on bases around the country.

On Tuesday, a group of elderly World War II veterans were so ticked off when they saw the World War II memorial closed that they pushed aside barricades set up by the government, and visited anyway. Most were from out of state on probably the only chance they will ever have to see this memorial erected by the American people to honor the service of those who saved not only America but the world. As many noted, these men had scaled the cliffs of Normandy in their youth. A barrier was not about to block them, and the news spread like wildfire through Twitter and Facebook.

For those of us who live in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's ridiculous to have the gates closed to Shenandoah National Park at the start of leaf season, blocking the scenic Skyline Drive as well as access to lodges and hiking trails utilized by thousands. Is the down-time going to be added to season passes to make up for the lost days? It's a mere inconvenience to us but not for those from overseas or states across the country who had planned October visits to this well-known national park, nor to workers who are now on furlough and out of work.

Even though a last-minute decision by the National Park Service kept the Blue Ridge Parkway open, all facilities along this 470-mile ridgetop drive have been shuttered. That leaves tourists helpless as they drive past Mabry Mill, Peaks of Otter, campgrounds, restaurants, and visitor centers not to mention restrooms.

For communities bordering national parks throughout the country, the loss of tourist dollars is going to hurt big-time, pushing some who were hanging on by a thread over the brink. Peaks of Otter near Bedford had just reopened; will it recover from this unexpected shutdown? On the Outer Banks, the lighthouses are closed as well as NPS-controlled beaches.

The News Virginian made good sense in Wednesday's editorial, Congress needs to rethink priorities:
If the government is shutting down, why haven’t they turned off the lights? That was a random thought from our staff Monday night, while following the House and Senate debates. Midnight passed, all of the deadlines expired and members of both parties talked about how the government was shut down now. Yet a government which shut down Shenandoah National Park Tuesday morning due to lack of funds kept the lights going as both parties argued whose fault it was, long into the night.
They added:
Let’s be realistic. Whether you agree with the Affordable Care Act or not, nobody is going to defund it. House members can vote another 40 times and while it looks good on paper, nothing is actually accomplished. The Democrat-controlled Senate is not going to vote to shut down something that President Obama has made a key part of his legacy.
While many were against ObamaCare, News Leader columnist Matthew Poteat makes a valid point:
Take for example the willingness of a small but influential bunch of House Republicans to shut down the Federal government because they oppose implementing the Affordable Care Act. Never mind that the law was passed by due process, signed into law by a duly elected (and reelected) president, and validated by the Supreme Court.
It was the reelection of Barack Obama that showed the majority of Americans were in favor of ObamaCare. Republicans fought it for three years and lost. That's the way our system works. If the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats were pulling this stunt, Republicans would be excoriating them for ignoring the will of the people.

I'm weary of the hypocrisy from both sides of the political aisle. That includes the hypocrisy of Congressional members who are exempted in what many consider an odious law. What's good for the American people should be good enough for our elected leaders who voted for the Affordable Care Act.

No one is going to emerge from this fight unscathed but, sadly, Republicans are going to bear the blunt of the blame which brings to mind that explanation of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."


Anonymous said...

Very good post.

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Thanks, Vivian.