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As Long as We Remember...

September 30, 2013

On the brink of the government shut-down

Steven R. Berryman

We’ve shut down the government before; it’s nothing new, but is a political tactic used to negotiate between warring political factions – also known as the two-party system. You know you are in trouble when their strategy is really about who will get the blame, as opposed to fixing anything.


The term Civil War has been bandied about recently in describing our national political status.


The choke-point of a CR – or Continuing Resolution – deadline allows Republicans and Democrats to torture one another again and again at our expense.


The legislation packagers and packers may drop in the poison pills of Obamacare revision, or not. Individual mandate in coverage, or medical device taxation, it’s not about fixing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but about making the other party look like an obstructionist or a bully, depending on one's vantage point.


Of course, a poorly designed healthcare system revision with this many problems so early on could end up killing more people at the end than did our Civil War!


The last time we furloughed the federal government, the employees got their back pay at the end of the game; this time they may not. Welcome fiscal responsibility. But how did we get to this point?  And who is really getting hurt here?


The victims of our current economic debacle, Greatest Recession, and national depression are we United States citizens. Consumer confidence is in the tank. The positive psyche of American Exceptionalism is being run down like an old battery. Faith and trust that an enormous bureaucratic government can “solve all of our problems” is at a pitiful low.


Compounding the decision to shut down government over the political impasse (or opportunity!) of a debt crisis is compounded by a host of other bad reality scenarios; there is just no good news out there to counterweight it.


Largest, of course, is the entire rush into the scheduled implementation of the ACA or Obamacare tomorrow, October 1. First steps like creation of insurance markets at a state or federal level were to have been put into place (and tested!?) by then. Many states outright refused this, and the federal markets designed to replace them in just this case are not ready.


Reportedly there is massive software trouble, testing has not occurred and or has failed, and the system is not even prepared to tell a citizen what exactly, if anything, they qualify for as subsidy or benefit. Is your income too high?


Republicans could take the above truth of mismanagement on a grand scale and use it as a rationale to force a delay to ACA as part of the Continuing Resolution to agree to borrow and spend on more government, at least for a time.


So, this becomes a “revenge moment” for Republicans if they force a shutdown of government, based upon a sure presidential veto if the ACA is compromised, as was already done by executive order for major corporation. With the healthy among us not paying into the system, it will automatically fail (except as a wealth redistribution scheme).


The GOP is thinking: I don’t remember the doctors jumping up and down to demand national healthcare. Surely the dentists didn’t want it, as they were fully exempted from the entire program as if they were not even in the medical field! Trial lawyers celebrate the victory that sham lawsuits were not even addressed.


But a chance to delay the ACA, however correct a decision it may be, is forever politicized by joining it up with the CR. Should this choice be forced into a veto or rejection by the Senate, the GOP would pay too much in the mid-term elections next year.


A radio talk show host joked yesterday that President Barack Obama himself is praying for a government shutdown to happen in order to create a bad guy in the image of Republicans.


As if this weren’t enough, you can’t text and drive in Maryland at the same time as of tomorrow, and you won’t be able to buy a handgun in less than four months (vendors actually removed them from shelves!)…let alone an automatic rifle.


The sequestration of America continues, and we are stuck in a damned-if-you- do, damned-if-you-don’t conflict in Syria, compounding your gasoline prices.


So, tell me again, what has your government done for you lately?


Don’t ask. It may cause you to opt-out.


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