What the “American people” (as Ted Cruz and several Republicans call those who agree with them) have witnessed over the past few weeks is a political game of chicken—who will blink first?
The problem is this little game has impacted the lives of millions of Americans. It has hit them in the pocketbook and caused strife to small businesses that don’t have enough reserve capital to weather this Washington equivalent of a schoolyard fight. It has shut down national parks many of which are the very thing that attract tourists and income to cities, states and even the entire country, not to mention the number of people employed by these parks and monuments.
There was an old Western Airlines advertisement that had a bird sitting on the tail of a plane asking, “Is this any way to run an airline?” Substitute one word. “Is this any way to run a country?” Where was the benefit in this prolonged standoff? A better question is what was the sum of damage it caused? Should the latest attempt to throw out Obamacare have shut down our government, or should it have been a separate issue?
This was the first shutdown in 17 years and it hit America at a vulnerable time, just as it was finally beginning to rise out of recession and recuperate from the 2008 financial crisis, precipitated by America’s ‘too big to fail’ banking industry. What could possibly be solid justification for pushing the ‘head’ of America back down under the water even as it struggled to avoid drowning? Shutting down our government clearly was not the will of the majority of the ‘American people,’ so often quoted as being fully in favor of these crazy shenanigans. And, by the way, when people like Cruz and Boehner say “the American people have spoken,” does that mean anyone who doesn’t agree with them isn’t American? Ask those who were furloughed without pay. Ask the local retailer who saw a huge drop in sales because people were hurting for money. Ask the employees of a myriad of non-governmental businesses who had to take time off without pay because their employer’s business was so far off it didn’t warrant giving them the hours. Ask everyone who was hurt and don’t insist “the American people have spoken.”
Where was the reason in causing the country to lose billions for what should have been negotiable? Ah, for the days of politicians who had a larger vocabulary than ‘No!’ and actually looked at what was best for the country.
Beyond the shutdown, what about the debt ceiling? The US has never defaulted on their debt since the ceiling was introduced in 1917. Congress has raised the cap more than seventy times since 1962, but for some reason when the Obama administration requested the same thing previous administrations did, it became a public and embarrassing war of the wills. For example, in 2011, Republicans in Congress attempted to use the debt ceiling as leverage for deficit reduction. The delay in raising the debt ceiling led to the first ever downgrade in the federal government's credit rating. This contributed to the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 2,000 points in late July and August. And, now we’ve been brought to the brink once again, just two years later with the potential of more damage being done to world economy.
There is not a shadow of a doubt these political games have not only damaged the reputation of the US, but could have significant lasting effect. The debt ceiling was used as a political gambit to rehash budget wars. Instilling fear by waiting until the 11th hour for solutions puts investors in a nervous meltdown and world markets on edge. This must stop and rational thought must return to Congress. The Republicans, and the Tea Party in particular, thought the Democrats would easily back down and yield to their bullying, but this time they were surprised.
Morgan St. James has written over 500 articles for examiner.com. When she wears her other hat, she is the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, a frequent speaker at writer's conferences and a guest on radio shows.
Her latest book co-authored with true crime author Dennis N. Griffin as told to them by Bella Capo is La Bella Mafia, a shocking true story of abuse, survival and inspiration was released on October 15. Now available at Amazon and Houdini Publishing.