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Friday, September 27, 2013
Some basic facts:
* As of 2012, out of a nation of more than 313 million people, roughly 4 percent of the population works in the government. That includes the military. When you factor in all state and local government jobs, it goes up to 8 percent of the population works for the government, the smallest percentage since 1987.
* According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal deficit has shrunk by $300 billion since President Obama took office, making him the smallest government spender since Dwight Eisenhower. The current deficit is around $750 billion, down from almost $1.5 trillion. This was before sequestration took effect.
* Despite the hysteria hyped up by the right, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, only affects those who are currently uninsured. If you have your own insurance, Medicare or Medicaid or use the Veterans Affairs health care system, you will not be affected one way or the other.
As for those who are uninsured, there will be tax subsidies for those who cannot afford it. USA Today reported a recent Health and Human Services study has determined that, thanks to the subsides, 6.4 million Americans will be able to buy health insurance for about $100 a month.
If you think that the government should be (as Grover Norquist infamously said) small enough to drag to the bathroom and drown, you are kidding yourself. In a nation of more than 313 million, a government the libertarians and other small-government advocates envision would be a disaster for the nation. If you think the government should be run like a business, you have no idea how either operates. Government is not about profit and loss, it’s about services.
Government provides a counterbalance to all the disparate parts of society, with its most fundamental purpose being to provide a safe place to live, nothing more and nothing less.
If you think the government is some big bad other, you are part of the problem. Our government really is of and by the people. We do not have, like Pakistan or India, a literal political class, even though it looks like it sometimes. Granted, our system has its problems. All do, but it still does more good than ill.
If the government is shut down, it will have a profoundly negative effect on society, and that is not taking into account a national default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
What kind of effect will it have?
Your friends, neighbors or family members who work for it will not get paid. That means their money will not filter out through society by being spent, which means the neighborhood diner won’t get your business for breakfast and their employees will see a drop in pay, especially the servers. Consequently, they will have less money to spend. The diner will not be able to expand, and the servers run the risk of losing their jobs.
That is just the beginning.
Don’t whine if you don’t get your Social Security or disability check or if federally funded projects come to a grinding stop.
Don’t complain if the Salem VA hospital is not seeing walk-in patients or the clinics you need to see are not open.
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
— Section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Obama needs to take a page from the career of former Maine politician and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas Brackett Reed.
In January 1890, the minority party (at that time, the Democratic Party) paralyzed the House with excessive use of what was called the disappearing quorum, in which members of Congress, physically present, would refuse to answer when their name was called, thus preventing the forming of a quorum and so preventing the House from moving forward and doing its business.
His answer to this was simple. He would count them as present anyway. This produced outrage when he first did it and all but caused a riot in Congress. He persisted, and the Democrats tried to flee the chamber. Reed ordered the doors locked.
This lasted for three days. In the end, Reed killed the disappearing quorum. The Democrats tried to bring it back when they gained control of the House, but the precedent had been set.
The point is, Obama should go ahead and raise the debt ceiling on his own, since he has the Constitution on his side, and let the Republicans howl bloody murder and try to drag it into the courts. They will lose because, as stated, it is written into the Constitution. They will continue making utter fools of themselves, and in the process kill once and for all these continued attempts to extort the executive branch by the extremists in the House. By threatening to allow the nation to default if he doesn’t do what they want, they are failing to do their duty, i.e. the business of all the people, not just those who vote for them.
These people are acting like petulant kids who threaten to hold their breath if they don’t get their way.
They are not conservatives; they are nihilists.
If they do not want to do their job, as dictated by the Constitution, then they should resign and let their constituents elect adults in their place who will.
The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is the law of the land and has been so for several years now. The Supreme Court upheld it; it is here to stay.
Defunding it will not stop it. It will just hurt people. And threatening to let the nation default on its debts is just plain crazy, and dangerous, to boot.
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