The shutdown was not a 'good fight'

The shutdown was not a 'good fight'

October 18th, 2013 in Opinion Times

GOP's shutdown: demands, results

Defund Obamacare - NO

Delay Obamacare - NO

Delay individual mandates in Obamacare - NO

Deny health care coverage to the president and vice president - NO

Deny health care coverage of congressional staffers - NO

Deny health care coverage for the cabinet - NO

Deny birth control coverage - NO

Approve Keystone Pipeline - NO

Raise limits on means testing for Medicare - NO

Change federal employee pensions - NO

Expand oil drilling on federal lands - NO

Block net neutrality - NO

Tort reform - NO

Weaken EPA rules for coal-fired plants - NO

OK Paul Ryan's tax code proposed changes - NO

Thwart EPA coal ash regulations - NO

Repeal tax on medical devices - NO

Change debt ceiling rules - NO

Require guarantees for income verification for certain low-income people who are going to get subsides for Obamacare - YES. (It's already in the existing law.)

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acted as though the end of the American government shutdown was just another game of inside baseball in the nation's capitol.

"We fought the good fight. We just didn't win," he said.

Guess what, Speaker Boehner: Nobody else won either. Are you so myopic that you can't see there are no winners in this misguided debacle you called "the good fight"?

While you and Sen. Ted Cruz and his band of 30 or so government haters frittered away 16 days and badmouthed federal workers who were going without paychecks while you did some grandstanding to toss away barricades at national parks and veterans monuments, the country lost $24 billion in economic output.

These were real losses to real people. Not only did federal workers lose paychecks, so did small businesses dependent on these workers. State coffers took hits, as did our own country's cash box. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which costs $60,100 a day to operate, uses that money from Uncle Sam to attract $3.3 million a day in tourism businesses. Over the shutdown, that one park alone tallied losses of more than $50 million in northwest Tennessee and western North Carolina communities. Other closures meant children were removed from Head Start programs. Did they miss the day when the light would flash and they would grasp the concept of adding? Scientists didn't get expected government grants. Did we miss the next great invention or drug?

Where's the "good" in this "good fight"?

Even the conservative Heartland Institute's Ben Domenech late Wednesday told a television audience that the country suffered for the Republican failures in Congress this year.

Speaker Boehner could have let Democracy work 16 days before, rather than waiting until Wednesday night to allow a vote. Instead, he let the tea party anarchists disgrace the country and very possibly ruin their own Grand Old Party. Tennessee's Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Scott DesJarlais were among those voting against ending the shutdown Wednesday.

And what great goal did they and the anarchists have? They wanted to undo the Affordable Health Care law - Obamacare- a law three years on the books. Obamacare is a law that guarantees affordable private, portable health insurance for every American and already is partially enacted. It is a law upheld by the Supreme Court and endorsed by the American people when they resoundingly re-elected Barack Obama for a second term even while his Republican opponent promised that if the GOP won the White House and Congress, the law would immediately be undone. Apparently, despite what the GOP repeats over and over, that wasn't what Americans wanted. If it had been, we would have a different president.

If there is a "good" in the radical Republicans' "good fight," it will come in 2014 mid-term elections when Americans can just say no to more government officials who are more interested in their own names and party than they are in the American people. Perhaps the good will come when Americans can just say "no" to more tea party and anarchist candidates whose reason for being is simply that they hate government and they've gained currency saying America is spending beyond its means.

Let's be clear. In the past four years, the U.S. deficit has been cut in half. Already. Without undoing Obamacare or pretty much anything else in our government. The only thing the chants of the radical Republicans have succeeded in doing is to slow our economy, to keep us from growing back still more of the jobs lost after the Bush-era induced Great Recession.

Government can be too big, but it also is needed. It is not just a taker. It also is a giver. Its taxes provide needed and appreciated services, like roads and bridges, schools and teachers, parks, jobs, clean air, clean water, security.

Certainly there should be accounting and transparency. But shutdowns don't prompt those either. They just shut the doors and turn out the lights.