Over the past few days the government has shut down because Congress cannot agree to raise the debt ceiling. This is the technical reason for the shutdown. The real reason is because the ultraconservative Republicans are upset that they have to enact a law that they don’t like.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was originally proposed in 2009 and passed by the Senate and House of Representatives. The bill went to the White House where President Barack Obama proudly signed it.
It was challenged by several members of Congress and went to the Supreme Court, where it was deemed constitutional by a 5-4 vote.
These same members of Congress who opposed the law are the ones behind the shutdown, using the budget as a means to bully the rest of Congress to do what they want. If they have legitimate concerns about the law, there are other ways they could have gone about it besides holding the country hostage.
Eighty congressional Republicans signed a letter, started by Mark Meadows of North Carolina, stating their plan to refuse to pass a spending bill unless Obamacare is defunded. This is not a case of Congress having trouble ironing out the details of a bill; this is intentional.
Instead of taking the loss with dignity like adults, these members of Congress are collectively throwing a childlike temper tantrum.
President Obama and the supporters of the ACA should not give any ground to these kinds of tactics. When a child throws a tantrum, you don’t reward them – to do so would set precedence for future groups to use this same tactic. This shutdown is not good for the United States, and it is not an acceptable means of negotiating.
While the stubborn members of Congress sit on their butts, still receiving pay, approximately 800,000 government workers are temporarily out of a job. Many of these people live day-to-day or month-to-month on their paychecks, and now they cannot work and cannot support their families.
Some members of Congress are donating their paychecks to charity, but the park ranger at Yosemite doesn’t have that option.
On Oct. 2, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., said, “I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line. I understand that there may be some other members who are deferring their paychecks, and I think that’s admirable. I’m not in that position.”
Two days later, only after her comments received massive backlash for their hypocrisy, she reversed her position, saying she would decline her $174,000 salary if the shutdown continued.
Similarly, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., stated he had no plans to decline payment.
“I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it,” said Terry. “Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”
The government was shut down for five days before the House of Representative passed a bill on Oct. 5 to retroactively pay the furloughed federal employees when the shutdown is over. However, even if the Senate and the president approve it, the pay could still be delayed for some time.
It is clear where their priorities are, and it is not on the welfare of the American people.