Being a federal employee who is apparently "non-essential," it is beginning to appear very likely that I will be "furloughed" beginning this Tuesday as the government of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth begins shutting itself down - all because a very small group of very well insured congressmen don't want ordinary citizens to have affordable health care.
So who is essential in our government? Congress, of course. Our representatives and senators won't miss a paycheck or a perk as they hustle from lobbyist to lobbyist collecting campaign donations and marching orders. It is such a comfort for me to know that my own personal congressman, Trent Franks of Arizona, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, will stay on the government dole as he wages his never-ending war against the rights of women to control their own bodies.
John Boehner, the neutered Speaker of the House, appears to be the key player in this latest burst of government melodrama. Mr. Boehner can't seem to muster the courage to take control of the House and pass a bill that would keep the government from shutting down on Tuesday. Instead of leading, he is choosing instead to follow a vocal minority within his own party in a futile attempt to keep harmony within the GOP and maintain his leadership position,nice suite of offices, and endless string of tee-times.
(It ain't gonna happen, Orange John. Whether you succeed in mollifying the rabble or not, they're still going to dump you out of the Speaker's chair, an ignominious end to the most ineffective Speakership in the history of the Republic.)
News reports this week have talked about a teabag faction in the Congress numbering forty to forty-five members who are intent on stopping the government and likely wrecking the economy simply because they want to keep those in need from having health care. These are the same individuals, by and large, who also voted to slash billions from the food stamp program to keep the poor from having a chance to stay healthy through good nutrition.
So who are these forty or so super-patriots, the righteous few so intent on imposing their angry values on the rest of us? Extremist Representative Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, established an official congressional organization called the Tea Party Caucus in 2011, with herself, of course, as the chair. A few of the more notable members washed out of office in the next election (people like Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Todd Akin), and when the current Congress formed in January of 2013, there was a grand total of 49 Tea Party Caucus members in the House (out of 435) and five members in the Senate (out of 100). All, of course, are Republicans, and almost all receive their health care through government-sponsored and supplemented insurance plans. Those moral and intellectual giants (according to Wikipedia) include:
House Members of the Tea Party Caucus: Michele Bachmann (MN), Joe Barton (TX), Gus Bilirakis (FL), Rob Bishop (UT), Diane Black (TN), Michael C. Burgess (TX), Paul Broun (GA), John Carter (TX), Bill Cassidy (LA), Howard Coble (NC), Mike Coffman (CO), Ander Crenshaw (FL), John Culberson (TX), Jeff Duncan (SC), Blake Farenthold (TX), Stephen Fincer (TN) John Fleming (LA), Trent Franks (AZ), Phil Gingrey (GA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Tim Huelskamp (KS), Lynn Jenkins (KS), Steve King (IA), Doug Lamborn (CO), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO), Kenny Marchant (TX), Tom McClintock (CA), David McKinley (WV), Gary Miller (CA), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Rick Nugent (FL), Steven Plazzo (MS), Steve Pearce (NM), Ted Poe (TX), Tom Price (GA), Phil Roe (TN), Dennis A. Ross (FL), Ed Royce (CA), Steve Scalise (LA), Pete Sessions (TX), Adrian Smith (NB), Lamar S. Smith (TX), Tim Walberg (MI), Lynn Westmoreland (GA) and Joe Wilson (SC).
Senate Members of the Tea Party Caucus: Mike Lee (UT), Jerry Moran (KS), Rand Paul (KY), Tim Scott (SC), and Ted Cruz (TX).
So no matter how the government shutdown affects you or members of your family (and if it drags on more than a couple of days - everyone will feel it), rest assured knowing that our representatives in Congress will still be getting paid and will continue to be covered by health insurance that all of us pay to supplement.
What a country!