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Government shutdown harms employees, not the lawmakers

Published: Thu, October 3, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

More than 800,000 employees of the federal government are on furlough because Republicans and Democrats in Congress have failed to agree on a budget — even a stop-gap one.

And while many families today are trying to figure out how to make ends meet before they get a paycheck, the 535 senators and representatives are still drawing their salaries — at a cost of $10,583.85 per hour to taxpayers.

This, while hundreds of congressional staffers were sent home, packs of tourists were turned away at the Capitol, and constituent services in many offices ground to a halt, as the Associated Press portrayed the shutdown that began Tuesday.

Senators and House members are paid $174,000 a year; a handful of leaders make up to $20,000 more.

It is true that lawmakers can’t withhold their own pay even if they want to, but they could show unity with those whose lives they’ve disrupted by placing their salaries in escrow until the shutdown is over.

That would serve as an incentive for Republicans to stop gambling with the nation’s economic stability. Their insistence that any spending plan include the defunding or delay of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is the reason that nonessential government services are not available today.

A key provision in Obamacare (the online insurance marketplace) went into effect Tuesday, and more than 1 million Americans visited the site. As the kinks in the computer programs are worked out, more people will access the marketplace to find the insurance that best suits their needs.

And as the numbers grow, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to keep arguing that Obamacare is un-American and is doomed to fail.

Indeed, the GOP already has tried every way possible to deep six President Obama’s signature accomplishment — giving the 40 million Americans without health insurance the opportunity to be covered at affordable rates.

Republicans failed to prevent Obama’s re-election and to convince the Supreme Court that the ACA is unconstitutional. So now, they’re holding the nation’s economic well-being hostage.

It won’t work. That’s the opinion not only of Democrats, but of key Republican senators and representatives, including the party’s elder statesman, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

McCain, as the party’s standard bearer in the 2008 presidential election, was described by Republicans as the adult in the race compared with Obama, who was a freshman senator when he won the Democratic nomination. Now, however, many of the same Republicans are treating McCain as a senile old man.

Fool’s errand

Why? Because he told Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially those in the House, that they’re on a fool’s errand by including the defunding of Obamacare in any measure to keep the federal government operating.

It remains to be seen whether the adults in the Republican ranks on Capitol Hill will succeed in getting the children in line.

If the shutdown of the federal government is cause for concern, the threats by the right-wingers in Congress not to raise the debt ceiling is scary.

The global economy could go into a tailspin if the United States is unable to pay the bills it already has racked up.

It’s time for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to allow members to vote on a clean bill to temporarily fund the government and another to raise the debt limit.


1andersonathan(683 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Amazing amount of stupidity coming for the Democrats, from the white house to the locals. If in 5 years any president and his party can not come up with a simple budget to offer congress then they need to be laid to rest. Yes Obama care is getting millions of calls and average about 1% of actual sign ups. Check the UK Daily News for the numbers. And Thank God for the radical right the longest shut down was 22 days under Slick Willie. He submitted the the house and senate [R's] and it was over. And received the glory of a surplus and that is another joke for another time. So dig out old faithful and blame GWB

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2Jerry(845 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

During the Reagan administration the federal political landscape was just about exactly opposite of the situation we have today. For both of Reagan’s terms there was a Republican President, and Republicans controlled the Senate by a less than 60 seat majority. Meanwhile, Democrats controlled the House by a significant majority.

During that 8 year period, the federal government was shut down no less than 8 times because the Democrats in the House sent spending authorizations to the Republican controlled Senate and White House that contained agenda driven divisive individual spending policies (spending on this...cuts to that, etc.) that they knew would be rejected or garner a veto. Does this sound familiar????

Whether you agree with the ACA or not, it is a huge spending program and has significant effect on the economy and the growing deficit. It is an appropriate consideration in any spending bill. Deciding that we will spend money on this, this, and this; but not on that, that and that is not only the purview of the House, it is their responsibility. Using the spending authorization hammer to attempt to drive policy modifications has been used by Democrats and Republicans alike and, in the current situation, the House has offered several compromise proposals.

Why is it not time for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow the Senate to vote on everything that the House and Senate CAN agree on, the proposal to fund the government in its entirety except for the one year delay in the ACA?

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