Friday, March 4, 2011

Government Shutdown - Possible Or Not? Good Or Bad?

Although the Republicans say that a government shutdown, like those back in the Clinton era, will not happen, something will have to give. The Republican House, sticking to its mandate to reduce spending, is proposing cuts that both Obama and the Democrats in the Senate do not like.

The scenario is that even if the House cuts are passed on by the Senate, Obama will undoubtedly veto the bill thus setting up the options for the House to back down on their promises, which should not happen, or let funding expire so the government has to shut down. Like the last time, the Democrats and liberal press will blame the Republicans.

What is interesting about any shutdown is that so called "essential services" are not shut down. I looked into what an "essential service" was and found out that, in the past, each agency determined on its own what to keep operating, and, invariably, resisted categorizing any of their services as "non-essential".

I was hoping to find a list of agencies that the government itself believes to be "non-essential", but, alas, no cigar. I found things such as Social Security and passport application services and veterans services on the chop block, but nothing like the Dept of Energy, whose main purpose when established in 1977 by Jimmy Carter during the oil crisis, was to create energy independence here in the USA. How has that worked out? Same with the Dept of Education: we are now ranked 14th in reading, 25th in math, and 17th in science on the world scale. Essential service? Not in my book. Education is much better handled at the local level.

We now come down to the questions raised, shutdown possible or not, yes, possible. Good or bad, I would love to say good, but there are a lot of unintended consequences to a shutdown. Small businesses centered near government buildings would suffer, independent contractors would not be paid, bureaucrats picking and choosing services to cut would invariably go for those that would get the most publicity, thus harming those most vulnerable, and yes, there are many hard working, conscientious government workers that would lose some compensation. I'll have to go with "bad".

Reduction of government and spending can be done in a more reasonable way, that will accomplish the results needed but do less harm. Moratoriums on spending measures, faze-outs, reductions of workforces through attrition, tweaking entitlements, and actually enforcing Sunset laws, not to mention repeal of Obamacare, would be a great start.

The deficit crisis is real and those in government that refuse to roll up their sleeves and tackle the problem for real, do not deserve to represent the people and should, during the next election, be summarily dismissed from the offices they hold.

Read a related article here.

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