There’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the partial government shutdown now in effect as Congress and the White House stagnate in a “Mexican standoff.” If all the fingers being pointed were dollars, the national debt would be significantly decreased in a matter of days.
But the truth of the matter is, the Democrats, Republicans, and President Barack Obama are drowning in hypocrisy as they blame each other for their inability to do what they are very well-paid by the public to do – govern responsibly.
The obvious strategy, if you can call it that, of Obama and his Democrat majority in the Senate is to blame the Republican-dominated House for the shutdown. According to them, the tea party has hijacked the House because a handful of anti-government members refuse to be herded by their so-called leadership.
What’s puzzling is why Obama and the Democrats are surprised by this. The tea party has now been around for years, after successfully throwing out “moderate” Republicans in their sweeping 2010 election victories. That they continue to be a potent campaign threat is evidence that the proclamations of their decline were completely and totally wrong. It’s just another example of “wishful thinking” instead of facing reality by Obama and the Democrats.
It is considered radical that the Republicans blatantly say they won’t fund the government until certain provisions of Obamacare are delayed by a year. Specifically, they’re talking about the mandate that all citizens buy health insurance or face fines from the federal government.
But it was Obama himself who unilaterally decided to not implement other provisions of the law and now provides a classic, if ironic, case of the pot calling the kettle black. For some reason, the president believed he could simply ignore the law’s requirement that small businesses provide health insurance for their employees and delay that section of the law for a year. There is, however, no provision in the law whatsoever to allow the president to pick and choose what would or wouldn’t be implemented.
And how strange is it that this is the issue over which Obama and the Democrats decided to make their great stand? Although its real name is the Affordable Care Act, Montanans know well, since our own Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., was the chief architect of the measure, that Obamacare should more accurately be called the “Insurance Industry Enrichment Act.”
It won’t take much straining of the memory to recall that only a few weeks ago, Democrats did not have the courage to say no to war in Syria – despite overwhelming public opinion against new military aggression there. Now that would have been a stand worth taking and actually been in line with their constituents’ wishes. But no, despite significant public objection to Obamacare – and its Rube Goldberg complexity which may not work at all – this is what the Democrats decided to fight over.
By the same measure, how strange is it that Republicans regularly vote for massive military spending of $2 billion a day, but have decided their fiscal conservative conscience cannot handle the costs of feeding, housing, clothing and educating the least fortunate among us? In the meantime, billions in their very generous corporate subsidies and tax breaks go on unabated.
Likewise, how weird is it that the leading edge of the shutdown is the “Washington Monument Syndrome,” where the sectors of government that cost the least, such as national parks and monuments, are the first to be shut down? This is a very perverse way to enrage the citizenry so one party can blame another for strictly partisan political reasons. In the meantime, the National Security Agency continues to invade the privacy and freedom of our citizens, Congress liberally throws away billions in military aid around the globe for the most dubious of outcomes, and of course, Obama continues to kill those on his death list via drone attacks in sovereign nations.
Steeped in hypocrisy and hoping to distract us with their phony cat fight, the truth becomes clearer every day – both Congress and the White House continue to serve their real master, which is the Wall Street corporatocracy and the military-industrial complex.
But what they most fear is the Day of Reckoning, when the citizenry finally realizes the truth – that the “D.C.” in Washington, D.C., stands for “dysfunctional clowns” and, realizing we couldn’t do much worse, throws the bums out en masse.
George Ochenski writes a weekly column for the Missoulian’s Monday Opinion page. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.