With the failure of Congress to reach agreement on a Continuing Resolution to fund the government into the 2014 fiscal year, the government began a partial shutdown today. Predictably, the Democrat spin doctors and their willing cheerleaders in the mainstream press began the finger pointing blame game. The President sent a message to all government employees, which was dripping with contempt and blame for the Republicans in Congress. The theme was carried forward by the usual suspects in both elected office and the press. Unfortunately, their narrative is not supported by the facts.
Concurrent with the end of the fiscal year, ObamaCare enrollment was to begin today. Republicans in Congress have been resisting the so called (and misnamed) “Affordable Care Act” since it was introduced. Unlike the Democrats who passed it, they saw it for the unsustainable train wreck it was. While Nancy Pelosi was famously stating that “we must pass it to find out what’s in it”, the GOP was being mocked and ridiculed for raising red flags about provisions in the bill which have later proven to be worthy of the red-flag warnings! Everything they were warning of, and more, turned out to be true, and at least as bad as the GOP had claimed.
There is no denying that ObamaCare fails on every count it was promoted with. It does not make healthcare more affordable. It does not improve access to care. You can’t necessarily keep your doctor. And along the way it’s already wasted a trillion dollars on a boondoggle that has hobbled the economy, employment and the security of workers. Even one of the bill’s original authors has famously opined that it is now an unsustainable “train-wreck”. In short, ObamaCare is a disaster of epic proportions.
The latest Democrat tactic is to dismiss any criticism of ObamaCare or effort to undo it with "It's the law of the land". Such a specious argument is easily countered with:
So was slavery, the Dred Scott decision, male-only voting, Prohibition (which was not only a law, but a Constitutional Amendment!), Japanese internment, "separate but equal" schools, Jim Crow laws etc. Not every law on the books is a good one, and only the Medes and the Persians had laws that, once written, could not be changed.
Americans have never given their support to ObamaCare, with a significant opposition to it from its conception to implementation. It passed without a single GOP vote, and more importantly, it required every single vote it got in the Senate. Any single Democrat whose yea vote was to become a nay would have scuttled ObamaCare. This means every single yea vote in the Senate was the DECIDING vote to ram ObamaCare down the throats of the American people. The bribery and arm-twisting to keep the Democrats in line was rampant, but ultimately each Democrat Senator made the decision to support the bill, and therefore each one individually owns the deciding vote. One would think some would be concerned about being held to account for this. In particular, there are Democrat Senators from Red States who would do well to consider how continuing to support ObamaCare with their votes will bode for their continued careers.
Since its passage, the House has voted several times to repeal ObamaCare – a symbolic act to be sure, given that the Harry Reid Senate would never bring such a measure to the floor. This time they are utilizing the one part of the constitutionally established legislative process where the House still wields power against a Democrat controlled Senate: the power of the purse. All spending legislation must originate in the House. No spending can take place over the objection of the House. So they sent the Senate a Continuing Resolution which funded all of government, but stripped funding from ObamaCare. Unsurprisingly, this serve was handily returned by the Senate. Pong!
The House responded with a CR which once again funded the government, but delayed ObamaCare implementation for a year. Ping! The Senate rejected that as well. Pong! And the Government shut down. Or more correctly, it partially shut down. Social Security checks will still go out, mail will still be delivered. Services protecting life, property and national security continue. In a surprising show of true bipartisanship, a House measure to insure pay for the military through the shutdown cleared the Senate easily. Government functions which deliver benefits continue operations.
The major impact of the shutdown is on Government Employees. As the President touted and conservatives lamented, the US Government is America’s largest employer. As many “non-essential” workers were furloughed, these idled workers and their families are directly affected – though if history is any guide, we can expect that they will receive back pay for any time they’re out due to the shutdown, which will mean the shutdown amounts to a paid vacation for them.
For most Americans not employed by the government, the impact will be minimal unless they had been planning a trip to a National Park, or had made application for services requiring processing such as a small business loan.
Government shutdowns are nothing new, and not particularly impactful nor memorable. It would surprise many people to learn that the government has been shut down 17 times since 1976, 7 of them by Democrat House Speaker Tip O'Neil.
Senator Mike Lee is currently proposing a strategy of piecemeal funding via a series of single item funding bills. De Facto “line item budgeting”. It remains to be seen how the shutdown will play out, but having now committed to it, for the House to go over the cliff of shutdown only to cave without gain would be disastrous for the GOP. They MUST hold firm until they get concessions.
A Nuclear Option exists as well: The House could again pass the Defunding-ObamaCare-but-Funding-All-Else Continuing Resolution - and add in an increase to the Debt Ceiling. Passing this to the Senate as their last, final and ONLY offer, they could then adjourn and return to sell their position in their districts - leaving the Senate only one choice; to pass the bill if they ever wish to fund anything. With the debt ceiling looming, the Senate would be under irresistable pressure to pass the bill as presented.
It must be pointed out that while the President has never proposed a budget by the deadline imposed on him by law, the House has indeed passed an actual budget every year as they are constitutionally mandated to do. The Harry Reid Senate has failed to pass a budget every year since Obama became President. The “budget” process has been replaced by the Continuing Resolution, which authorizes the continuation of current spending levels. This is important not only because the budgeting process has been essentially eliminated by the Senate, but because of what preceded the Obama Presidency.
When the balance of power shifted after the 2006 elections and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of Congress, annual spending was around $2 trillion dollars and our deficit was around $160 Billion with a "B".
Within 2 years, and by the time Obama was sworn in, they had increased spending by 50% to around $3 trillion annually, and they raised the deficit by 10 TIMES – from $160 billion to $1.6 Trillion.
That was the last budget passed by Congress. Continuing Resolutions have maintained that spending level since. (Was America really not spending enough in 2006… when the Democrats were calling Bush’s spending and deficits “reckless” and “irresponsible”?)
More than any other individual, one man is culpable for not just this shutdown, but for the ObamaCare debacle, for runaway spending and deficits. For economic calamity. And surprisingly it is not the President! It is none other than Harry Reid.
Harry Reid has run the Senate like an iron-fisted dictator. He has manipulated rules and procedures, in some cases rending more than a few threads of the fabric of his constitutional authority. He has steadfastly refused to seek a compromise position with the House on pretty much everything. For Harry Reid, compromise means “Do it my way”. Not a single budget has reached the floor for a vote. Many house initiatives were never even debated in the Senate. Harry Reid demands 100% obedience and conformity from the Democrats in the Senate.
Now in the face of a shutdown, despite the House fully funding all of government at current levels without even attempting a reduction, but defunding ObamaCare - he first forced all his Democrat Senators to again go on the record defending ObamaCare instead of defending America from ObamaCare. And again, he would not even accept a delay of ObamaCare in exchange for fully funding the rest of government.
The House, with its GOP Majority has passed workable budgets every year. They have sought to defend the American People from the debacle that is ObamaCare with multiple repeal votes. They have offered full funding of the government, TWICE, while seeking to defund or delay ObamaCare. One man has stood as the obstacle to all of the above, and deserves the full weight of the blame: US Senator, Harry Reid.
Hopefully, Nevada will be wise enough to not return him to the Senate next election cycle. But even if they vote him out, the Democrats will find a leader no less egregious if they maintain their majority. Therefore it is essential that there be a shift in the balance of power in the Senate in 2014.