If we learn nothing else from this most recent government shutdown, let it be that both parties are nothing more than spoiled, petulant children who have little regard for the people they end up hurting. This is never more true than when I’m forced to look at my friends, all federal employees, who work up for work that Tuesday morning and, really, shouldn’t have bothered.
One of my friends works for the Department of Defense. He’s an Army veteran with three tours in Iraq. His wife and twin children are his everything. He watched as his job with what may be the most vital of all governmental departments was deemed “non-essential.” He signed a furlough letter and headed with his family to Tennessee where his wife recently relocated for work. In time, he and the kids will be joining her there on a permanent basis.
That may sound like a vacation, but it’s not. You see, as long as he’s been with the DoD, he gets paid vacation time. This isn’t vacation time in the least. This is a lay off. It’s no different than when a factory sends half their workforce home for a few weeks.
Another friend of mine works for the Department of the Interior. In particular, she works at the home of former president Jimmie Carter in Plains, Georgia. She also had to stay home, with no money coming in for a day she was more than ready to work.
Almost everyone in this country can look at something the government does and argue that it shouldn’t be doing it. This isn’t really controversial. Even the idea of picking a fight on healthcare isn’t all that controversial when you think about it. Even proponents of the law aren’t really shocked to see the fight come back up once again.
However, those same proponents have a point about Republican efforts to tie efforts to eliminate or weaken Obamacare to the continuing resolutions that would continue to fund our government. This effort at the eleventh hour is nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to hold a gun to Democrats heads and force the issue.
That’s not to say Democrats are blameless in this. The second continuing resolution that was proposed only sought to issue a one-year delay to what may be the most controversial part of the new law, the individual mandate. The individual mandate may well hurt the working poor most of all, since the tax credit that purports to pay for the law won’t come until they file their income taxes. That means someone has to pay anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of their income on health insurance that they may not need, and the so-called help they’re expecting won’t kick in for months.
Democrats could easily have let the second continuing resolution pass the Senate as it did the House, and President Obama could have signed it. Americans could have been given just a little more breathing room to see if the individual mandate was really even going to be workable. Instead, President Obama and his party refused to budge while accusing Republicans of “hostage taking”.
Both parties deserve blame for this mess. Unfortunately the people who are being hurt aren’t members of Congress sitting in their comfortable chairs while my friends hope they can pay their bills. President Obama’s not having to vacate the White House for the time being, hoping he can support Michelle and the girls.
When politicians play these games, real people get hurt. It’s time they start to realize that.