Wednesday, September 25, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Myth Of The Government Shut-Down

The government of the United States is not going to be
shut down this week. Or next week. Even if the continuing
budget resolution is not passed by both the U.S. house and
senate, and signed by the president, the government will
not be shut down.

A government shut-down has become a term of political
myth, partisan melodrama, and rhetorical comedy.

First, the vital functions of the government are not ever
shut down. Second, the current impasse is an incessant
replay of a wearying political soap opera in which one
party attempts to score points in public opinion against
the other party. (Usually these points are won by the party
occupying the White House because of any president’s
media advantage. This heavily favors Democrats since
the Old Media overwhelmingly favors the liberal party.)
Third, most of those who endure any consequences are
government employees, most of whom vote for Democrats.
Presidents can also easily grandstand by closing down
low-cost items such as White House tours (which seem
much more important than they are).

The last “shut-down” confrontation produced the celebrated
“sequesters” which were advertised in advance by the
Obama administration as imminent disasters. In fact, the
sequesters have turned out to be rather effective, if uneven,
as a limit on public spending and only a minor inconvenience.
Sequestering is not a viable permanent solution, but as a
short-term strategy, it has turned out unexpectedly well.

Obamacare is in deep trouble. The administration has
already postponed major parts of the legislation, and might
have to postpone more. The various components of the
labyrinthine so-called healthcare reform are mostly not
ready to be implemented. The Democratic legislation itself
is extraordinarily unpopular, and in 2010 led to an electoral
disaster in that year’s midterm elections. It threatens to
result in the same in 2014. Various states have already begun
to set up Obamacare exchanges, and some are claiming they
will work, but the numbers so far do not add up. Until
these claims are unequivocably demonstrated, they should
be treated as hype and propaganda.

Senator Ted Cruz conducted a 21-hour pseudo-filibuster
against funding Obamacare, but it was not meant to be
anything more than publicity monologue for the Texas
senator, aimed at the conservative political base. Immediately
after concluding his effort, Mr. Cruz voted along with the
entire senate (100-0) to begin the debate on the continuing
resolution that inevitably led to its passage.

The U.S. house has voted one more time to defund Obamacare,
with Republicans again fulfilling their promise to vote against
the unpopular legislation. However, without control of the
U.S. senate and the White House, any action of theirs is
symbolic, and cannot accomplish anything except public

Some of the most thoughtful conservatives who strongly
oppose Obamacare have suggested that Republicans in
Congress should, in effect, get out of the way, and let the
long-winded, contradictory and unsustainable legislation
begin to take effect. As totally the political property of the
Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack
Obama, these conservatives say, let them take the
inevitable backlash for its construction and enactment.
Former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee, now a
conservative TV commentator/host, has made this case
particularly well.

Like so many political issues today, the realities are clouded
by emotional and intimidating rhetoric. “Government
shut-down” is one of the most blatant examples of this.

The public should ignore these petty games, and demand
that both parties work out settlements that will actually
improve healthcare delivery, boost the economy by helping
entrepreneurship, lower unemployment and stimulate the
public markets.

The political comedy has become a farce, and isn't even a
bit funny.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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