Since I have a lot of non-U.S. readers, I should start by explaining that our government has shut down all so-called “nonessential” functions. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include the usual bloviating by our elected officials.
Here’s what happened. One of our major political parties professes a desire to reduce the size of government and a segment of that party has gone radical. (I believe the segment is supported by over a fifth of voters, so it’s not insignificant.) They express the desire to prevent Obama’s not-so-popular health care law from going into effect because they believe it represents government overreach. The health care law wasn’t popular when it passed and Obama and Biden still have to sing its praises because the population as a whole never warmed up to it. The radicalized politicians are refusing to allow the government to continue spending money until an agreement is reached to void or postpone the health care law. Because the Republican Party (not Obama’s party) controls the House of Representatives, they have this power as long as the party leadership goes along with it. On the other hand, Obama is calling this an ideological crusade and claims that they are trying to reverse the voters’ verdict in the last election.
In short, no compromise happened by the mandated funding deadline and the government shut down. I do not wish to blame either side for this. Instead, I want to look at how idiotic the concept of negotiations is. Right now, one side crusades for reducing government spending and eliminating programs. As long as no political backlash erupts against the Republicans exclusively, we will be living in the radicals’ paradise. With a government shutdown, these advocates have almost everything they want and more than they could have ever dreamed of getting through the regular legislative process. Of course the radicals won’t compromise. Would you give up your paradise for the opportunity to make even more concessions?
It’s also no accident that the Republicans have floated mini spending bills for national parks and other things people are complaining about not having. If those bills were enacted, the shutdown could continue indefinitely or at least until the next elections. Since the public isn’t blaming either party for the shutdown, the specter of future elections can’t deter anything.
Politicians are usually morons, but I have to admit that the Republicans have performed a brilliant end run around the legislative process. Almost every government program the Republicans oppose has died, at least temporarily. The focus on Obama’s health care plan only disguises this.