How 30 people closed your Government

Last week, I argued that shutting the government down is a dumb idea.  Here we are in the middle of the shutdown, and things are turning out to be even worse than I thought.  Too bad I wasn’t wrong.

800,000 people are laid off. This shutdown is costing our economy $300 Million a day, or over $1 billion by the close of business today.  Does anybody think this is good?

In fairness, it’s not the entire Republican party keeping the Government closed here.  As few as 30 ultra-conservative GOP House members are to blame.

US Capitol, img courtesy of Wikimedia

Is this thing on?

Here’s how it happened:

John Boehner wants to keep his job as Speaker of the House (and continue to be third in line to the Presidency).  When re-elected as speaker, he received 220 votes to Nancy Pelosi’s 192.  If he loses support of 30 Republicans, that puts his number at 190, leaving Democrats room to inch ahead.

Republicans would have to choose between allowing Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker again and anointing someone else from their ranks to take Boehner’s place. Obviously, John Boehner doesn’t want that to happen.

Related: Socialized medicine? Don't think so.

Those who want to repeal the individual mandate do so because it is the central element to making this plan work.

The individual mandate does the same thing in the Affordable Care Act as it does in Massachusetts with Romneycare – It pays for coverage for those who are sick.  When healthy people pay premiums and don’t need as much coverage, it covers the costs of care for the unhealthy.

As more people get less expensive preventative care, it reduces the money spent overall on care because people aren’t as sick, so all of our premiums get cheaper.

So it uses the pool of premiums from everyone to cover costs for the neediest among us.

Some are quick to call that socialism, but it’s actually not.  It’s called insurance.

Img Credit: Kimberly Gauthier - Flickr

Socialist Gecko

So what’s the end game, then? There are a couple things to know.

First of all, this is not a negotiation.  That requires two parties acting in good faith to reach an agreed upon conclusion.  This is one side refusing to keep the Government open unless they get a law (or certain parts of it) taken off of the books, which runs counter to the principle of majority rule.

Keeping the Government open is not a reward for negotiating.  It is the job of Congress.  You or I won’t get paid extra for showing up to work, because that’s part of our job.  It’s what we’re supposed to do.  Congressional members shouldn’t get a reward for doing their job, either.

The second thing to know is that the votes exist in Congress to re-open the Government, right now.

Gadsden flag - Image Credit: Wikimedia

Shouldn’t the uninsured be waving this?

There is unanimous support among Democrats, and there are more than enough Republicans who would join them to re-open the Government, no strings attached.  Boehner hasn’t allowed a vote, most likely for the reasons mentioned above.

Until that happens, Congressional Republicans are hoping that people get used to the current state of affairs and forget that a shutdown even happened, just like Sequestration.

They’re now trying to use a piecemeal approach to support only the parts of the Government that they like – funding the department of Veterans Affairs, but de-funding the IRS, EPA and FDA, for example.

Not so fast, buddy – we saw that.

Who knew we could get to this point arguing over a law that was a Republican idea in the first place?

Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Boehner will allow a vote on the debt limit, even if a majority of his caucus doesn’t support it.  That’s nice to know – maybe he’ll do that for re-opening the Government as well.

He should.  People are hurting and our economy is suffering.  We’ve got too much work to do, and the shutdown is keeping us from doing it.

Let’s get out there and end this thing.


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