Being Right: For the Children



I think I speak for most people by describing the self-congratulatory rhetoric over averting a government shutdown as distasteful. College students are the ones who put off things until the last minute. Middle school kids are the ones who are supposed to be im­pudent. Elementary school kids are the ones who need gold star stickers every time they get something right. The only logical conclusion I’m left with is that we have a govern­ment of children, except children are generally cuter and friendlier. Did I also mention that next Monday, Congress gets to go on a two-week recess?

What’s more galling is the fact this budget bill is for part of last year’s budget. It should have been negotiated and passed months ago. President Obama and the Democrats are absolutely responsible for not passing a budget prior to the November election when they could have done so. Although they held both Houses of Congress, they made a cynical cal­culated political decision that it would be electorally damaging to pass a budget bill. Either they would anger their base with spending cuts or possibly alienate swing voters. But guess what, Democrats lost anyway. They lost the House by a huge margin in November and they certainly lost more than the Republicans did in this last-minute bill.

Both parties think that by taking a self-congratulatory stance the American people won’t blame them for bringing government to the brink. But they don’t deserve a pat on the back for simply doing their job. For our service men and women, the bills and bullets don’t stop just because the government shuts down and can’t issue them a well-deserved paycheck. It’s absolutely unconscionable that politicians put hardworking Americans and the budget in such uncertainty over marginal issues.

We all know that Congress is a busy institution. They have hearings on everything from steroid use in professional sports to the alleged link between Muslim-Americans and terrorism. They don’t hesitate to call others out for greed or impropriety. There is almost no area in life where Congress isn’t involved in some shape or form. Watch C-Span some­time and you will invariably see some Senator or Congressman giving a defiant speech on the floor. You should take a look behind him and see if there is anyone else. Most of the time, the floor is empty. C-Span has asked repeatedly for permission to use wide-angle cameras, and it has been repeatedly rebuffed by both Republicans and Democrats. It’s amazing that members find time to grandstand and berate each other but are unable to pass last year’s budget until the very last minute.

As Herbert Stein once said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” The al­ternative to the last minute deal between Obama and Boehner, a government shutdown, would have been catastrophic for the economic recovery and for the American people’s confidence. This was a deal that absolutely had to be made, and it is a good thing that it was, but there is simply no excuse or reason for this kind of partisan brinksmanship. Let’s hope that when Congress finally gets to addressing the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget that the adults are the ones at the negotiating table.