By Ian Hedges
I am writing this amidst a crisis in Congress. If Congressional Republicans and Democrats do not reach an agreement on how to fund the federal government until September, the federal government will shut its doors at midnight tonight. Many small implications come from this: the Smithsonian museums will be closed, Congressional employees will not be returning to work, and the tigers at the National Zoo will be released into the city. Unfortunately, the government has not prepared the United States for the bigger consequences that might arise from a government shutdown.
According to independent economists, if the government shuts down for several weeks the absence of social programs could hurt consumer confidence and lead to another recession. Not only will the institutions of the federal government be closed, but the low-wage, hardest working employees will not receive their paychecks. Medicaid payments, Social Security checks, and assistance to low-income individuals will be halted. The troops overseas and their families won’t even get paid for their service. I think you can see how this would be a blow to our country.
Yet I wonder who to scold if this shut-down happens. Most people want to blame the Republican leadership, but I think they are smart enough to realize this hurts their chances come next election cycle. Should I blame Congressional Democrats? After all, they are the ones who delayed the budget until March and they would have been able to pass a budget that the House, Senate, and President Obama would have liked. Or should I blame the Tea Party? Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) said that the Tea Party was taking him hostage. It makes me wonder if the Tea Party has dirt on John Boehner. Do they have photos of a 40-year-old male sex slave trapped in a chest in his office? Do they have records of the child laborers that help him work on his tan? After all, the Tea Party is the group in our government who want to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and if they had the chance, the Civil Rights Act; so it is in their interest to watch the government fail.
But blaming these groups adds to the contemptuous political climate that has resonated in Congress within the last few years. Instead, let us hope that they go beyond their constant childish bickering.