Shut Down? Shut Up!

More accurate, this could not be (Jeff Darcy)

Like many Americans, I am getting sick and tired of all the political nonsense going on in Washington: government shutdowns, Affordable Care Act (ACA) hating, debt ceiling worries… there seems to be no shortage of bullshit in our nation’s capital (for lack of a better word). And even though I never claimed to know much about politics—a fact some readers are quick to point out any time I write something remotely political—I still feel it is my right as an American citizen to bitch about the ineffectiveness of our elected officials.

So here you go.

Before I share my “two cents’ worth,” though, I should mention that (a) I find politics and the procedures for passing bills into law very confusing and (b) I know only basic facts about the ACA, affectionately known as Obamacare. I did print out a 15-page summary of President Obama’s health reform bill and plan to review it carefully, but have not yet had the opportunity to do so. If any of my views seem misinformed as a result, at least you know why.

And yes, I am also a registered Democrat, but I will refrain from pointing too many fingers at the GOP… if possible, that is.

With that being said, here’s what bothers me about the government shutdown, the fears surrounding the impending debt ceiling catastrophe and all the negative attention surrounding Obamacare: it’s the American people who will suffer as a result. And sadly, this is already happening. Just ask any federal employee forced to continue working for no pay. Good luck paying bills when you have no income to speak of… and no real hope of having it restored any time soon, either.

Of course, I’m sure our elected officials are still collecting their salaries. Heaven forbid that they have to suffer through the same nightmare as the rest of us.

True enough! (Philly Apparel Company)

Which brings me to my next complaint, which I will phrase as a question: Is it really necessary to attach so many additional stipulations (riders) to every bill we try to pass through Congress? Consider the events leading to the recent government shutdown, which illustrate just how ridiculous this method can be.

Ever since Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act—which at its heart seems focused on providing health care for all Americans (so people without it aren’t financially ruined because of one medical emergency)—Republicans have tried in vain to defund and destroy it. One political pundit even claims the GOP has made as many as 40 attempts to get this done, but whether or not this is accurate remains to be seen.

They have been trying, though. I think we can all agree on that.

Unfortunately for the GOP, Obamacare wasn’t going away, so they decided to take more desperate measures: they tied defunding of the ACA to a bill to re-fund the federal government. And when it didn’t pass, our government came to a screeching halt. Now we have roughly a week until the U.S. defaults on its debts and we become even more of a global laughing stock than we already are.

What in the hell is happening in this country?

Perhaps something positive can come out of all this (Some Ecards)

Perhaps something positive can come out of all this (Some Ecards)

Here’s what I find strangest of all: I heard someone reputable mention how Obamacare was self-funded and how shutting down the federal government did nothing to stop it or even slow it down. Hell, the insurance exchanges are already up-and-running, despite experiencing some technical difficulties early on. So what exactly has all this accomplished?

Nothing positive, to be sure.

From a layman’s perspective—by which I mean me—this seems like little more than extortion. Funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling are things that most politicians seem to support. But when you toss Obamacare into the mix—which most Republicans seem to despise—it suddenly becomes impossible for some politicians to support, especially Democrats. People may want to do the right thing—keeping our government running, ensuring Americans continue working and getting paid, and so on—but their hands are tied since agreeing to these important things also means dismantling the ACA.

To me, this would be like writing a bill to reduce pollution and increase the penalties for those doing the most damage to our environment, but attaching a rider that excluded all major corporations from these new policies. Democrats may agree that greater regulation is needed in terms of controlling pollution, but I seriously doubt they would sign anything that would exempt some of the worst environmental offenders. It just doesn’t make logical sense.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub: nothing in Washington seems to make logical sense anymore. Just turn on the news and you will find endless examples of political idiocy. Hell, you can’t even escape it any more.

Of course, it now seems as if some Republicans are stepping back and trying to re-fund portions of the government to ensure people get paid for the work they do. And many believe our elected leaders will reach some agreement to prevent a debt ceiling disaster, since the deadline is so close. Granted, some of this might be for survival—poll numbers for the GOP are sinking and if there is any hope of putting a Republican in the White House after Obama, something has to be done. It’s just a shame that a more reasonable approach couldn’t have been taken from the start, which brings me to another question: Couldn’t the Obamacare stuff be voted on separately? This could have prevented the shutdown and would make the debt ceiling debate easier to stomach, too, but we certainly can’t count on Washington to take such a reasonable approach. These days it’s all about bitching and blaming… and there’s no hope of it ending anytime soon.

Amen to that! (We Know Memes)

Amen to that! (We Know Memes)

I know my opinions may not be valid to some of you—and if you have your own to share, please do so in the comments—but it is the way I feel and, as I mentioned, being an American gives me the right to complain about our ineffective and embarrassing government. However, I am growing weary of every news story regarding the shutdown and everything else. So I have a recommendation for the weekend: How about transforming all the news about the shutdown into a few days of shutting up?

After all, everyone deserves a break.

Posted on October 9, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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