Talk about "nonessential" government employees. Republican members of the House pretty much top the list. (As my friend, P., a banker, wrote me from England, "If the result of the shut down was that the first group of 'public servants' not to be paid was politicians an agreement would have been found." Yup.)
For those of you who vaguely remember your U.S. History (or Schoolhouse Rock), the role of Congress, the legislative branch of our government, is to pass laws and establish an annual budget -- and levy taxes and tariffs to provide funding for government services. Clearly the current Congress, the 113th, is not doing a good job of either. (And the previous one did a sucky job, too.)
In fact, the only thing this Congress, and by "Congress" I really mean the Republican led House of Representatives (and the one before it), has done successfully is to obstruct Federal appointments and legislation -- that is, not pass laws and to de-fund and/or cripple many essential government services -- and shut the government down.
Newsflash: For those wondering what constitutes an "essential" government service, per Speaker of the House John Boehner, keeping the House gym open is "essential" but the National Institutes of Health providing cancer treatments to children is a "nonessential" service. Ditto Head Start. Ditto issuing benefits to the families of military personnel killed in combat. [For a full list of what's closed and what's open during the government shutdown, check out this CNN graphic.]
[Personally, I think the Irish were onto something when they voted to disband their Senate, which many Irish citizens consider ineffectual or incompetent and not worth the 20 million Euro pricetag. However the measure was voted down by a slim majority. I'd be curious to see, however, how a national vote to disband the House, at least temporarily, would go down here.]
Oh, and for those of you who believe the BS that there is plenty of blame to go around, please to be watching this Jon Stewart Daily Show clip. (I could cite many other sources re the cause or source of the government shutdown, but I thought this was one of the more succinct and to the point -- and most amusing. You can skip ahead to around the 1:09 mark.)
[I also enjoyed the Daily Show clip titled "Jon Stewart's Rockin' Shutdown Eve," and not just because of the New York Giants quip. Though I'm all for the Giants doing whatever it takes to get more points.]
So how long will the Tea Party, representing just 18 percent of the United States (if even that much), hold the rest of the government hostage to its ludicrous demands? Got me. And will they refuse to raise the debt ceiling, which, btw, Congress raised 17 times under Ronald Reagan? I don't doubt it.
What can be done? Short of marching on the Capitol with pitchforks, probably nothing -- unless gerrymandering and allowing wealthy citizens to fund candidates is outlawed.
I just wish someone could make the crazy in Congress go away.
UPDATED: The Tea Party-inflicted government shutdown has cost over $1.6 billion to date and is draining an estimated $160 million daily from the U.S. economy. 401Ks, IRAs, and savings are also taking a major hit. And who pays the price? We, the taxpayers.
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