Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

‘This is a Disaster:’ Federal Government Shuts Down

with 2 comments

What a mess.

The federal government has been shut down, all because the Congressional Republicans wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”).  The Rs did not get their wish as the ACA was funded anyway . . . but the government is still shut down until further notice.

Does this make any sense to you?  Because it surely doesn’t make any to me.

“But Barb,” I can hear you saying now.  “You’re a political junkie.  Surely you knew this was coming, so why are you so bemused?”

I did know this was coming, yes.  But I don’t understand why anyone — especially a cool political operator like Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) — would want to shut down the United States government.  Because, as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said on Rachel Maddow’s Monday evening late night show at 11 p.m. CDT, “This is a disaster.”

Now, Schakowsky was talking specifically about the people who will be “furloughed” due to the Congress’s overall inaction tonight — many of them making less than $30,000 per year.  Those are the people who do not have the resources to withstand even a day without pay, much less weeks or months . . . and the knowledge that the current Republican leadership has absolutely no endgame in progress (that is, any way to avoid doing what they’ve just done) makes this even worse.

“But Barb,” again you say.  “The Republicans do not like Obamacare and are standing on principle.  Isn’t that a good thing?”

Um, no, it isn’t.

Obamacare was funded anyway.  So the people who aren’t going to get paid now that the government has been officially shut down are the lower wage workers Rep. Schakowsky mentioned, right along with people who work in the federal park system (shut down), much of NASA (shut down), much of the Department of Defense (yes, the active duty military will be paid, thank goodness, but the civilian analysts helping to analyze threats have all been effectively laid off for no good reason, something Boehner and his compatriots among the Rs had to know), and many, many more.

All of this gets even worse, folks, when you consider that Congress will still be paid even though most of the rest of the government is shut down.  And that is not just wrong — it’s completely and utterly hypocritical.**

All night long, I’ve tried to understand why the Republicans — supposedly the party that wants to “keep the United States safe” — would want to cause this catastrophe.  Because it’s obvious that shutting down the government is likely to harm national security.

But then again, I suppose the Rs weren’t satisfied with simply harming the people just trying to get by — those G-1 and G-2 workers out there who have been indefinitely “furloughed” (meaning: sent home without pay).

So, why did all this happen, anyway?  Was there any rhyme or reason to it whatsoever?  Or is this all the equivalent of the political theatre of the absurd?

The pundits, whether they’re on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, or some other station, all seem to blame the radical right-wing Tea Party Representatives right along with freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for the current government shutdown.  (Fox News is complimentary toward these people, while the others are all condemnatory.  But the person mostly being named as being the prime mover here is, for better or for worse, Senator Cruz.)

To my mind, though, the one person who is responsible beyond a shadow of a doubt is Speaker Boehner.  Boehner’s been in the U.S. House of Reps. since 1990, which means Boehner saw what happened the last time the government shut down.  At that point, Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was the Speaker of the House, and things did not go favorably for him or his party due to Gingrich’s insistence on shutting down the government to get his own way.

Speaker Boehner knows better than this.  He has to know better than this.  But for whatever reason, he either couldn’t get his Republican caucus to listen to him, or he just didn’t care to set them straight.##

So here’s where we stand at this hour: The federal government has shut down.  The low-wage workers will be hurt badly by this, the defense contractors will be hurt badly by this, NASA will be hurt badly by this . . . and the Congress will still get paid for their overall intransigence.

It’s at times like this that I truly wonder about the state of American democracy.  Seriously.

———

Notes:

**Before anyone says it, I am aware that the Rs wanted to level the playing field and make sure that everyone in the Congress, the White House, and elsewhere in the government that’s currently exempted from the ACA would have to abide by the same rules as everyone else.  I agree that this makes sense, and had the House tried to talk about this earlier this year — long before now — I’d have been happy to entertain the idea.

Now, though?  What sense does it make?

##I’m not enamored by the way the Congressional Democrats have acted, either.  But the Ds in the House have no real power, while the Ds in the Senate have at least tried to do their jobs, as they’ve been trying to get the House to come to the bargaining table since late March or early April.  The R-driven House refused to do so, which is why I blame them far, far more than the Ds.

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2 Responses

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  1. Perhaps our one hope should be that Wall Street will Not Be Amused. If they cut the Tea Party off at the knees from donations for re-election, perhaps there will be an object lesson in here for these extremists.

    Cat Kimbriel

    October 1, 2013 at 9:07 am

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I think this is absolutely absurd. I do know that the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall St. Journal have both come out strongly against the idea of a government shutdown, so maybe there will be some sanity restored soon. (One would only hope.)

      Barb Caffrey

      October 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm


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