I had hoped that my rants of Monday and Tuesday would get the shutdown out of my system. There were a few items I was still fuming about, but I was trying to let them go. That was before this morning, when we learned that our humble little FFRDC was also affected by the shutdown, and as of tomorrow, almost all of us are on furlough — burning vacation days if we have them, taking unpaid time off if we don’t. Further, unlike Federal workers, we’re not getting that time back (or for those taking unpaid time, getting retroactive pay). This is hitting folks in the pocketbook, all caused by congresscritters who are not taking the personal economic hit for what they do.
There are those who are blaming this situation on the Senate and President not being willing to negotiate. My question is: Negotiate what? All the Senate and President is asking for is (a) to fund the government at the same level as last year for a few months, and (b) to agree to pay for, as one co-worker put it, “the one-click purchases we’ve already made.” The House is unwilling to do that — a minority of congresscritters is holding the country hostage over a law that was approved by the people’s representatives, signed by the President, and judged legal by the Supreme Court. If they want to negotiate on this, do it after the country’s financial crisis has been taken over. They won’t do that, however, because the only way this group feels they can get what they want is to bully the rest of the nation. My opinion — that’s not how America works. We don’t give in to bullys.
But I’m not angry. No, not me.
Then there are the people who are upset that the prisons are open, that the military is still there, that taxes are still being collected… while the CDC and NIH are closed, and parks are closed. They don’t understand how the government is funded and why what is open is open. Here’s the explanation. The law is the Antideficiency Act, passed by Congress in 1870 (and amended several times), which prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which the Congress has not appropriated funds. The Government Accountability Office says employees who violate the Antideficiency Act may be subject to disciplinary action, suspension and even “fines, imprisonment, or both.” The only exemptions to the shutdown concern “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,” according to government documents.
What’s even more galling is that this shutdown appears to be part of a larger plan. It’s not Obamacare. It’s the debt ceiling. It’s a longer term plan to strengthen one party’s hand in the debt ceiling talks. It’s bullying. Here’s a nice statement from Mark Evanier’s blog:
Ezra Klein on what’s going on in Washington. This all sounds correct to me, especially this paragraph…
To the White House, the shutdown/debt ceiling fight is quite simple, and quite radical: Republicans are trying to create a new, deeply undemocratic pathway through which a minority party that lost the last election can enact an agenda that would never pass the normal legislative process. It’s nothing less than an effort to use the threat of a financial crisis to nullify the results of the last election. And the White House isn’t going to let it happen.
Nor should they.
I agree. When George Bush was President, I didn’t always like what was being done — but I didn’t demand the country be held hostage until I got my way. [I’ve seen a number of posts that use the Iraq War as an example of this.] I bided my time, understanding that this country can live with anything for a few years. The pendulum would eventually swing, the other party would come into power, and legislative mistakes could be corrected. The current congresscritters seem to forget that — eventually (and it always happens, just as the weather oscillates from hot to cold to hot again) their party will be in power and they can do what they want. Until then, they have to work with the party that is in power in the best interest of the Nation; not block anything and everything.
As I’ve said before: children. I’m beginning to think — more and more — that Tony Hendra, Christopher Cerf, and Peter Ebling were right. They were just off a few decades.