Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Fine Mess: Government Shut Down II - Coming Soon

As October 1st looms, the country finds itself in another custody battle between the Republicans and Democrats both trying to define the role of government. As usual, the jobs of hundreds of thousands federal employees; federal museums, parks, and monuments; and the profits of all the tangential private sector business are on the line.

Raise your hand if you’re tired of this! We’ve been here before; remember back in February when congress took us to the edge of a shutdown? Or what about that one time…when the government brought us to the edge of global catastrophe trying to agree upon a debt ceiling deal.

Dang, when was that? I remember it like it was yesterday….

Well, here we are again in another fine mess, the result of politics over prudence. While the material has changed slightly, the procedures haven’t. If congress doesn’t pass either a Continuing Resolution or an actual Fiscal Year 2012 budget by September 30th, the government will shut down on October 1st due to lack of funding. To add insult to injury, the recently back from vacation congress has a scheduled recess during the week of the September 26th. If they decide to leave without a bill, the government will be shut down upon their return.

Tornado Damage in Joplin, MO
May, 2011

At the center of this universal display of governmental weakness are issues that most rational folks wouldn’t even consider partisan. One, the funding for FEMA and it’s disaster aid. After a late summer onslaught from Mother Nature that included hurricanes, tropical storms, Earthquakes, wild fires, record flooding, and tornadoes, the aid to the victims will dry up soon.

The president has asked for nearly $3.7 billion in aid for those that need assistance; however, the Tea Party backed Republicans will only allot the money if the bill comes with spending cuts.  This leads to the second issue.  The Tea Party backed Republicans are willing to let the victims from a summer full of natural disasters suffer and go without if they don’t get their way politically.

The Republican-controlled house – in a move that is becoming all too familiar – passed a bill with no compromise and zero chance of passing the Democratic-lead Senate. This bill funding FEMA, also cut the “Green” programs supported by many democrats. And, like clock-work, the Senate voted down the measure. The Senate proposed a similar bill, minus the reduction of funding for the “Green” initiatives, and, like clock-work, they didn’t have the required 60 votes necessary to pass it moving us closer to a shutdown. Brining us one-step closer to stopping Social Security checks from getting to those that need it. And folks, this is just for the stop-gap bill and NOT the actually FY2012 budget.  Who knows what that fight will look like!

But you know what’s REALLY disappointing? At a time when the world is in crisis and is in need of a “rock” to look to for leadership, here we are, a once powerful nation, bitching over whether or not we should help the most vulnerable among us proving to the entire world that our government literally can no longer function. I know it won’t happen, but I would love to see every single person in congress replaced. They no longer serve a point; our government is literally becoming irrelevant. So much so, the idea of compromise has fallen past our representatives onto the shoulders of the 12 in the “Super Congress” who are trying to do in three months what the entire congress seems incapable of doing.

My colleague the Janitor as elegant as ever said it best, “This is getting old. I’m getting sick of this crap.” From the public’s response of the last two “bring-the-country-down” bickering, I would say that the Janitor isn’t alone in his feelings. The Republicans love to throw out how historically low President Obama’s approval rating is, however, they conveniently like to overlook how historically low THEIR approval rating is with congressional Republicans fairing worse than the Democrats in the polls. Anyone find it interesting - or coincidental - that the low approval ratings line up with the arrival of the congressional Tea Party members.

But what happens this time around? This is CLEARLY not how the public wants their government ran. In September, 72% said they disapproved of the job performance of Republicans in Congress while 63% disapproved of the Democrats. While neither group has room to brag, it is clear that the hostage type tactics of the Republican Tea Party aren’t popular with the masses. According to Michael Dimock, research director for the Pew Research Center, the disapproval ratings for the Republicans stem largely from the perceptions that the their leadership is unwilling to compromise and reach a deal with the Democrats on key issues. It sounds as if they may need to reconsider their "my way or the highway" approach to legislating.  It could come back to bite them in the ass.  Bill Clinton’s second term is largely credited to the Republican lead government shutdown of 1996; it is possible, regardless of who the Republican’s select as their presidential nominee, that a shutdown could turn the public off so much that they blame the Republicans and hand the Oval Office right back to Obama in 2012. Are they really that stupid?

It’s time to stop trying to make a point and start running the country. A country that has people that don’t think like you think and may have a difference of opinion. It’s time to represent the entire country, not just those that show up for your pep rallies. I say, if they aren’t willing to do the job, replace the whole lot of them, Democrats and Republicans.

What are your feelings about another potential government shut down?

Does congress’ inability to govern impact how other countries view us?

Is the Tea Party to blame?

If not, who do you blame?

Will a shut down help or hurt President Obama in 2012?
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