Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shut-Down Show-Down is a Let-Down



DAY 29 OF 46





I don't know about you, but I'm having a difficult time getting all worked up about a government shut-down this Friday.

I mean, we all know the government won't actually close up shop.  Although, I imagine plenty of people would be euphoric if that happened!  No, they'll just curtail the "non-essential" busywork of the federal bureaucracy because supposedly, no money has been properly appropriated to pay for the 800,000 people it takes to get done.

President Obama hopped on Air Force One this afternoon to give a couple of political speeches.  So he's obviously not that concerned.  And partisan leaders of both houses of Congress don't appear too upset; after all, who knows which side might benefit more from the glaring - or maybe not so glaring - loss of federal activities which might not happen with a shut-down.

No Cherry Blossom Festival for Washington, DC?  Cry me a river.

No IRS refund checks?  Well, that may smart a little, until you remember when it was you finally received last year's refund. And besides, this threat only applies to paper checks anyway.  If you requested direct-deposit for your refund, you've no worries.

No pay for our soldiers?  Now you're talking some legitimate hurt, especially since we've got two and a half wars going on right now.  Want to concede three fronts simultaneously?  Tell the troops doing all the dirty work diplomats and politicians don't want to do that their government can't meet payroll.

Of course, this is still Wednesday.  Plenty of compromises have yet to be floated in the sultry air within the Beltway.  Obama will return from nob-nobbing with Al Sharpton and wait for Boehner and Reid to shake on an 11th-hour budget - if not Friday, then this coming Monday, after the press has had the weekend to really spin the federal government's paralysis.  And then we'll hear about how hard everybody's been working in Washington to make sure our bills get paid.

Spare me the histrionics.  From both the Democrats, and the Republicans.  Because even though I think conservatives have the upper hand with their desire to reduce government spending, it doesn't seem they're really interested in doing so democratically.

Looking back over the past couple of decades, as the right-wing hawk syndrome has wafted across the country, conservative Republicans have duplicitiously used the ballot box to gain elected office, but they're loathe to use the very politics that got them in office to actually make government work the way they want it to.

True, politics is an unsavory business at best and a morally-criminal enterprise at worst, but in a democracy, politics are hard to avoid.  These days, it seems that most Republicans have forgotten that compromise is essential for getting anything done in politics.  That's one reason why a government shut-down is looming this week:  Republicans seem intent on proving a point, rather than winning converts to the discipline of fiscal prudence.

Yes, the point is worthy of being proven:  we need to cut expenses.  But isn't how that point gets made also important?

It's not like their former champion, George W. Bush, had nothing to do with the massive budget deficits conservatives now find appalling.  In a matter of two short years, do Republicans expect Washington to come full-circle, from Bush's blank checks to Boehner's blank accounts?

Like it or not, American democracy is all about give-and-take for the good of the country as a whole.  Remember, liberal Democrats have been democratically elected (with the possible exception of Chicago), just as conservative Republicans have.  This means the budget struggle on Capitol Hill isn't so much a matter of partisanship as it is the society in which we live.  That's not to say that Democratic politicians don't need to face facts and let budget axes do some dirty work.  But Republicans need to use a little logic themselves.

After all, Republicans may not be part of the problem.  But does shutting down the government make them part of the solution?
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