It really doesn’t matter where one sits on the political ideological fence. Blame whoever you want for the Federal government shutdown. I do hope that most realize that the current disputes on the Hill are not new. Congress has been operating and handling funding by implementing one Continuing Resolution until the next. As I wrote previously in a grammatically and typographically challenged entry, CRs have actually been the norm during my lifetime. The debt ceiling or debt limit is a separate issue in that it refers to money which Congress has already spent. Personally, I don’t feel it is in the best interests of the United States to default on debts incurred previously. I believe that the important issues are to address both government spending and revenue collection. Both are complex issues with contrasting opinions on the most prudent methods to undertake to achieve a better balance, so this piece is not the place for that discussion.
My writing is to point out a couple of situations which I feel most have overlooked during this blame the Republicans or blame the Democrats for the shutdown period.
I’ve heard numerous statements from sources across the political spectrum referencing essential and non essential Federal employees. Whether blame the Democrat or blame the Republican, the argument that “non essential” must mean unnecessary has been made. Let’s forget about “official” definitions, and understand that regardless of employer or situation chances are that someone who is technically “non essential” is doing more work and is more valuable than an “essential” individual in that area. I’ve worked in many areas where positive actions took place because of the so-called “support” or “non essential” personnel. The “essential” people did their jobs as well, but success resulted from the efforts of everyone. The times where I’m “essential” the amount I can accomplish with talented administrative assistants and hard working student workers is many, many, times greater than with a staff of less talented or underachieving personnel. Whatever label is attached, these are real individuals affected.
It is true that if you are not one of these workers and if you do not know one personally, the impact of the shutdown is less on you compared to them. In the grand scheme of statistics, we are talking about a small percentage of everyone who is employed.
If you are not reliant on certain Federal services, don’t have a trip planned to certain parks or monuments, the government shutdown may appear to have little if any impact on you.
Some who take that line of reasoning have overlooked the unnecessary hardships placed on certain people who like you aren’t reliant on Federal services and who are employed by the Federal government. Think about those private individuals who operate businesses which rely upon the traffic created by these parks or monuments. Think about those who rely upon those who work in the Federal government to be the patrons of their private businesses. Restaurants are an easy example with which to gather an image.
Aren’t lunch time crowds near an office complex or tourist attraction usually packed in many of these establishments? With the shutdown, those typically packed businesses will become caves of empty tables and chairs. That food truck operator who paid money and competed for their prime business location goes from seeing lines 5 wide and 20 deep to perhaps 1 or 2 customers waiting. These workers are not employed by the Federal government. They are not among those who rely upon Federal government services either legitimately or who try to cheat the system. They are no different from you or me, but the inability of Congress to do their jobs harms them far more than any of the 535 on the Hill who enabled this shutdown.
I think a major problem is that both Chambers wait until the final minutes to bring these essential issues to the table. It’s not like the Members are unaware of the fiscal year dates and the lengths of the numerous CRs. Sure the GOP majority House blames the Democrat majority Senate for not entering into reconciliation over the CRs passed by the House in the last few days. My question is why the House refused approximately 40 times to enter into budget reconciliation with Senate after the Senate finally passed a budget. I think everyone knows that “No Budget, No Pay” was nothing more than politics since it is unenforceable with the current Congress because of the 27th Amendment.
The Democrat majority Senate can be blamed as well for a number of issues.
We on the outside may string our bows and launch our arrows toward either Democrats or Republicans, but I don’t think that individual who has their livelihood tied to their food truck really cares no matter how they vote. The businesses and people to which they owe bills don’t really care about why they don’t have the money. They only want to get the money owed to them. Whether Democrat or Republican as a Member of Congress, you are getting paid. That’s not about party, but the Constitution.
As citizens, we need to decide if everyone one of us, no matter how different we are as individuals, are represented by all 535 Members or if only those who agree with our personal ideologies represent us. As elected representatives, Members of Congress need to determine if they represent the United States of America and its people or if they represent only the Republican Party or Democratic Party and the special interests aligned with either.