Maybe I slept in on some random Saturday, but I don’t remember the School House Rock episode that covered government shutdowns. Can you imagine that little ditty?
Instead of: “I’m just a bill – yeah, I’m just a bill - and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.”
It’s like: “I’m just a wall – yeah, a big border wall - and congress just won’t fund me at all.”
Perhaps I missed my calling as a songwriter. Anyway, we’re now two weeks deep in this mess, with no end in sight.
This is not the longest government shutdown ever. That honor belongs to a 22-day furlough that stretched from the end of 1995 into early 1996. Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich and Democratic President Bill Clinton locked horns over funding for Medicare, education, and the environment. Gingrich wanted to slow government spending; Clinton refused to cut social programs. Eventually, the two sides met in the middle, agreeing to a budget with modest spending cuts and slight tax increases.
Golly gee, our elected officials working together and finding common ground? In 2019, that sounds like science fiction!
Right now, some 800,000 government employees are being hurt by bullheadedness on Capitol Hill. About half of that total is currently working without pay. Could you afford to miss a paycheck? Especially after the holidays? How about two? Regardless of how you feel about promises the President made on the campaign trail, is that a sacrifice you’d be willing to make?
Most of the people suffering have nothing to do with the ongoing squabbles between Trump and Congress. We’re talking about the Park Service, NASA, the FDA and FCC. Can’t we, at the very least, make sure these people get paid?
I’m no political scientist; perhaps I’m just a pessimist, but I think I know how this end. It’s a three-step process: point the finger, pass the buck, kick the can down the road. This seems to happen every time a new budget is due. Both sides will try to save face and will agree to some temporary compromise that inevitably makes the bulk of the problem someone else’s to deal with some other time. That is, for better or worse, the way things work.
“New year, new me” does not apply to the machinations of the legislative branch. So, can we just get this over with? I promise not to sing anymore, just as long as the guys changing the trash cans at the National Mall can pay his bills.