GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

A plague on both their houses!

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the dysfunctional Congress we continue to elect.  Politicians are good at only two things – getting elected and getting re-elected.  According to Gallup despite approval ratings consistently in the high teens to low twenties, over 90% of Congressmen win re-election cycle after cycle.  Why?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps, that inconsistency is at the root of the problem.

Both Dems and the GOP seem more intent on scoring political points than in settling the matter.  Neither side seems willing to negotiate.  This happens repeatedly, with few exceptions.  The latest example of this is the government shutdown.  As of Friday, midnight, all non-essential government spending and services have been suspended.  And, as I write this, all news outlets are reporting that not only is the end not in sight, but to quote CNN, “divides [are] deepening.”  Some have suggested that the GOP senate invoke the “nuclear option” (adoption by majority vote instead of 60 votes), but Senator McConnell and many other senators, both GOP and Dem, are opposed.

What, you may ask, is the burning issue that has caused this mess?  Essentially, the Senate Dems refuse to approve a budget until President Trump and the GOP agree to address the DACA issue.  Conversely, President Trump and the GOP refuse to include DACA as any part of a budget resolution.  They want to address it separately with other border issues, such e-verify, enhanced vetting, ending chain immigration, and The Wall.

Each side is convinced it is in the right.  Each side is blaming the other.  Whose fault is it?  That depends upon your party affiliation.  As I said, I blame both sides, and, in particular, the parties’ leaders, which seem incapable of leading.

This is like a bad movie that we have seen before and are being forced to watch again.  According to Standard and Poors the last shutdown in 2013, which lasted 16 days, cost the country $24 billion, or $1.5 billion per day.  Ultimately, it accomplished little.

So, how will the shutdown affect you?  In truth, unless it’s protracted, the answer is “not so much,” unless you are a member of the military, a “non-essential” federal employee, are looking to visit a national park, renew a passport, get seriously ill, or travel on an airplane.  In those cases, you will probably become collateral damage

According to ABC News:

  1.  Payments to military personnel, such as salaries, allotments and death benefits will be deferred until the shutdown has ended.  Yes, they will get their money, eventually, but in the meantime, how do they pay their bills?  Remember, many, if not most, of these families live paycheck to paycheck, and most creditors are not so forgiving.  The aforementioned death benefit is $100,000, which is paid to families of servicemen KIA.  Their families need this for funeral expenses and to defray financial hardship caused by the sudden cessation of military pay.  To me, this is morally reprehensible on its face (although, in the 2013 shutdown Congress passed a special bill to allow these death benefits to be paid).
  2. Similarly, “non-essential” federal employees are furloughed and have to deal with interruptions on their salaries.  How well would you survive if your salary were to be terminated suddenly?
  3. Most national parks, monuments and museums will remain open, at least through the weekend, then possibly close on Monday.  If you plan to visit any of these places I suggest you verify their status beforehand.
  4. Good luck if you need to renew your passport or travel in an airplane.  Many State Department and NTS employees will be furloughed, and services will be likely be severely affected.
  5. Due to furloughs many CDC services will be curtailed.  This will likely affect routine programs, such as flu shots, and pray there is not a major outbreak of some serious illness.

Guess what is not affected?  Congressmen’s salaries and benefits.  Perhaps, that is the problem.  We need to change that, but guess who would have to approve the change?  Yep, Congress.

CONCLUSION

In my view, there is plenty of blame to go around.  This should not be a difficult negotiation.  Polls show that most people, including President Trump, want to help the law-abiding DACA people, and most voters favor enhanced border security.  The outline of a deal is in place.  They just have to work out the details.  How hard could it be?

Eventually, this will get resolved, just like the other shutdowns.  As before, each party will blame the other and hope the other side loses at the polls.  Unfortunately, the biggest losers will be the American people.

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