Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Post-Shutdown Blues

Tea Party Movement/ American People's Protest ...
Tea Party Movement/ American People's Protest Rally Against Healthcare Bill - Capitol Hill, Washington DC (Photo credit: asterix611)

  I woke up this morning to the depressing – but, unfortunately not surprising – news that Tea Party activists in the House of Representatives continued to play chicken with the Democratic-controlled Senate right through to the midnight deadline last night, resulting in no budget legislation and a federal government shutdown.

I spent quite a while sitting on my deck, watching the autumn leaves begin to give up and float lazily to the ground, and wondering how long we’ll have to wait for sanity to prevail on Capitol Hill. Will the Tea Party’s nihilistic urges continue to hold sway, and cause them to cling to the foolish notion that driving the country over a fiscal cliff will force people to adopt ‘their way or else’? Or, will they finally realize that the majority of the country wants to go in a different direction, and they are marching to the beat of a different, and mad, drummer?

I went through this insane drill 17 years ago, and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Do people like the Texas junior senator realize that they are playing with people’s lives and livelihoods? Or, do they even care?

  How many Americans really understand the impact of a government shutdown? Probably not all that many. Check this AOL article for a summary of some of the impacts of a shutdown.

I can tell you, from a personal standpoint, the last shutdown caused no end of financial woes to your truly. When the Republicans, in another of their snits, shut the government down 17 years ago, I found myself having to pay out of pocket for official travel for my son and daughter to travel from my post of assignment in Sierra Leone back to the U.S. for college. It took me two years to get several thousand dollars reimbursed, and that was just one of the impacts that caused me to lose faith in some of our elected officials.

The current shutdown has the potential to hit me, and other Foreign Service retirees, even harder. While our annuity checks that are due today will still be deposited, if these wackos continue to play chicken to force the country to adopt their insane world view, there will be no November check. I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a mortgage payment to make, but the same probably can’t be said of others. I doubt if the banks will be sympathetic when the November checks are due.

What really frosts me is, why we’re where we are. These people, most of whom have no worries about health insurance coverage, are willing to bring the government to a halt in order to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed in 2010, because they’re convinced that the government should leave health care to commercial entities. They conveniently ignore the fact that commercial insurance companies had failed to do this for decades, leading to some 25% of Americans without adequate health coverage, which is why the law was passed in the first place.

These are people who were ostensibly elected to represent the interests of the people of this country. One has to wonder if they even care about the people of their congressional districts, many of whom, I’d hazard a guess, need the coverage ACA provides. But, they seem to be listening only to the nut fringe that wants a world in their own image – an image that strikes me as similar to an abstract painting done by a drunk monkey.

A large number of voters went to the polls and elected these (expletives deleted), and probably thought at the time that they were doing the right thing. As I sit here watching the leaves fall, I can only leave you with this parting thought: think about this the next time you walk into a voting booth.

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