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 oped@missoulian.com.

More from missoulian.com

(10) comments

BR

George, your screed of complaints here does not do you credit. Instead of sticking to a topic, you are all over the place in your anxieties about government today, and that is not a good place for a regular commentator to be.

Gary P

It's really too bad that all our 'elected' idiots! cannot get togrether and do several simple things. I think it is about time to get rid of all of them and start over!

MontanaJim72

Sorry George, but I think anybody who runs on a tea party platform in the next election will be demolished. They finally overstepped the line of being a nuisance, to causing economic havoc. The government shutdown is the tea party loading the gun. If they force a government default on it's debt, the tea party will be consigned to the history books as domestic terrorists. It's a shame that the Republican leadership is so afraid of what is really a small minority.

DonaldM

26 USC § 7805 is a Statute governing how the Internal Revenue Service amends its own Regulations; it does NOT give the President authority to amend or otherwise ignore the clear language of a Statute. If the writer is correct, then there is no rule of law left in this Country.

Statutes passed by Congress are then only suggestions, and are tentative, and the President is free to change, or ignore them at will. He does this anyway, but it is now unlawful. This is clearly a lawless Presidency. The current subject is only one of many where Obama has acted without legal authority.

It's encouraging, George, that you are beginning to notice the lawlessnsess, pettyness, meanness, dishonesty and venality of this person who happens to be the President of the United States.

He is not only sending people out to place locked barriers around open air monuments such as the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, etc., but also private monuments such as Mt. Vernon and numerous other non-governmental venues popular with the American people.

He has placed barriers around Mt. Rushmore, including highway pullouts, and the American Cemetery at Normandy. Obama is so hateful of the American people and its institutions and monuments that he gleefully does these venal acts for the fun of it. And, as in everything else, blames others.

Keep studying this person, George. You're only beginning to discover the evil that he represents.

Roy Andes

Don, 26 USC 7805(a) has been employed the Treasury Department multiple times under multiple administrations of both political parties to provide temporary postponements of certain statutory provisions. See, http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Upton-Treasury-ACA-2013-7-9.pdf
However, I'm inclined to agree that it does not seem to be a good practice.

libertarian

The trouble is some political parties pick and choose which mandates to support. We must mandate auto insurance, but not health insurance. Mandates never work out. Plus Congress wants to spend another 108 billion dollars in October, when it's only receiving 225 billon. We can't keep putting everything on the national credit card. Let's kick all the bums out.

Roy Andes

As you know, George, I usually agree on you about most everything. But I think this column goes astray. I think it is IS radical for a minority of congress to literally shut down the government as blackmail to get the majority to repeal already-existing law.

While I may agree that businesses should not have been given the 1 year reprieve from Obamacare, you are wrong that President Obama had no legal authority to do so. That authority is contained in 26 USC § 7805. And while I also agree that Max crafted Obamacare mostly as a shill piece for the insurance industry, and we'd be better of with Medicare for All, what I've seen of the Affordable Care Act roll-out so far is that it provides a great insurance discount to a great many people, far better than the past.

Finally, the decision about what segments of the government are shut down is not arbitrary. It was dictated BY CONGRESS in the Anti-Deficiency Act (as amended, 1996). Under that act, each agency must make a determination as to what personnel are essential. All others must halt work or face sanctions and penalties.

Obama has made many mistakes and compromises I don't agree with, but concerning the shutdown, he's doing the country's business.

Stan Reck
Stan Reck

Roy, just a correction, the Republicans have the majority in the House whereas the Democrats have the majority in the Senate. This is called a balance of power and is the foundation of our government as designed by our forefathers. Just because a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democrat President can't bully the Republican majority of the house, it isn't blackmail, it is exactly the way our government is designed and it is working exactly as it should. Good article George; you really hit the nail on the head with a balanced approach.

Roy Andes

Stan, We don't really know what the "majority" of House would or wouldn't do, because the speaker won't allow it to vote on the matter. Let's hold a vote and see. That's how democracy should work. A balance of power works when it's allowed to.

Still Here

Well written and well said.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.