Letter to the Editor, Sept. 29, 2013
Too much red meat is bad for you
EDITOR: Now we've all heard that consuming too much red meat is bad for you. But last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives dished out its 42nd serving to supporters. In a vote destined to fail Senate passage, our Boehner-led friends had to yet again prove their conservative purity by passing a bill that deliberately ties government solvency to legislation that kills the Affordable Care Act. Now that's a big ole hunk of political red meat to placate tea-partiers, especially since they only constitute 27 percent of the Republican Party.
Yawn. Okay, we got it the other 41 times - Republicans and tea party folks don't like Obamacare.
But to threaten the nation's economic health while jeopardizing the physical health of millions of Americans only shows that all that red meat has caused plaque build-up and sclerosis in the body politic, and especially in arteries that flow to its brain. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at what the Republicans and their tea-partying supporters voted for:
- If Social Security payments continued they would be delayed and no new claims would be accepted.
- Medicare payments would be delayed, as would enrollment for first-time filers.
- Our troops would not be paid until after the shutdown was over-whenever that is.
- DoD employees would be furloughed.
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms would shut down so issuing gun permits would stop.
- The IRS won't be able to process your tax refund and they won't be around to provide advice on their help line. Oh, and your taxes are still due on time.
- VA health care would most likely be delayed for the hundreds of thousands of veterans.
- Federal courts would stall, and it's unclear what would happen to an already-stressed prison guard staff.
- The National Institute of Health would stop taking new patients, and the Centers for Disease Control would stop monitoring disease patterns just as we enter flu season. (But at least they'd stop bugging us about consuming too much red meat.)
- Even more federal employees would be furloughed, and federal contractors would face a far less certain future as government funds evaporate.
- Head Start programs would cease.
- New student loan applications would not be able to be processed, nor would new FHA loans for home buyers-just as the housing market is beginning to recover.
- Small business loans would stop.
- Passports and visas for those seeking to travel will be slowed or stopped altogether.
- National Parks and Monuments would be closed.
- Workplace safety enforcement would stop.
Now I understand many of you don't care about any of the issues just mentioned. You might even think shutting down government will save us money. If history is any guide, you'd be wrong. The last government shut-down in 1995-1996 cost taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion to re-open the government, and all those furloughed employees got paid back anyway. So shutting down the government is a dangerous way to reduce deficits.
What is even more dangerous than a shutdown is threatening to not pay our nation's bills when we hit the debt ceiling in about three weeks. Virtually every smart person in the financial industry warns that if the Congress does not raise the debt ceiling we could face a number of economic shocks from turmoil in the stock markets and a drop in the nation's credit rating, to stunted economic growth and even global economic collapse. We all have to remember that raising the debt ceiling is not a partisan issue. Since 1960 the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times - 49 under Republican presidents and 29 under Democratic presidents - each time restoring the full faith and credit of the United States.
For congressional Republicans to threaten the debt ceiling not only signals how reckless they are with the nation's fragile economy, but how much political red meat they must supply to appease the 27 percent of their party that has an unusual fascination with tea. Clearly a more politically-balanced diet is in order.
Oh, by the way, even if the government did shutdown, implementation of Obamacare would still continue.