Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Phony Baloneyness of Government Shutdowns

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

As of this morning it looks as though the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has figured out a way to keep the government funded and running, at least for a short while.   Apparently Ryan managed to craft a deal that will keep things chugging along without de-funding Planned Parenthood, screwing up the Internet, or killing Obamacare - all things lusted after by Republicans in the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.  Or, in clearer terms, he prevailed without capitulating to right-wing zealots who are so intent in destroying Obama's presidency that they would gleefully bring down the government in order to get it done.

It all sounds so daunting, so critical to keeping our democracy functional, perhaps the very lynch pin that holds humanity together!   Life in these United States without a budget deal?  Heavens to mergatroid!

And it's all as phony as a tarot reading.

As someone who has ridden out a couple of government shutdowns from the inside, I can attest with relative certainty that that the chances of dire results coming out of a shutdown are relatively nil.  Yes, some payments will get held up, and some delays in services may occur, but Congress, and this Congress in particular, does not have the stomach to delay social security payments, stop the U.S. mail, pull TSA workers and air-traffic controllers out of airports, and send the military home.

It's all bluff and bluster -  a big game of chicken as each party maneuvers to make the other look responsible for threatening grandmother's peace of mind.

Apparently today's short-term fix was brought about so as not to interfere with the holidays.  If government were to "shutdown," average voters back home might expect their lawmakers to stay in Washington and work on fixing the problem.  But Congressmen, first and foremost, take care of themselves.   If there is a holiday to be had, by golly they're having it!

The "shutdown" will come later, after the holidays - and it will be a big lot of nothing!

The last time this particular circus came to town was back in October of 2013.  At that time I was a civilian working for the military on a military base.  We went through a series of meetings prior to the shutdown in which we were assured that the worst would not happen.  Troops would still report to work every day, as would "essential" civilians.  Being a lowly social worker, I was deemed "non-essential" and told that when the shutdown occurred I was to stay at home until notified otherwise, and that my pay for those days off would be delayed - but not to panic because Congress always came back after the crisis was over and paid the bills.

So the shutdown came, I stayed home four days while my "essential" friends went to work, and in the end we all got paid.  Government planning at its finest!

It's a political game, and that's all that it is.  A lot of people will be scared, many will get red-faced and angry, and a few will be inconvenienced.   In the end both sides will declare victory, the bills will get paid, and life will go on.

And the budget will never be balanced as long as we remain at war and continue to fund outlandish amounts of corporate welfare.

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