On October 1, the Government shut down. Even though Congress had been preparing by doing absolutely nothing for the past two years, President Obama felt he had to make something very clear to the American people at his speech in Rockville, Maryland on Thursday afternoon: blame the Tea Party.
President Obama began by explaining what happened to all of our –I mean China’s – money. Basically, the government shut down because no one passed a spending bill – which happens to be basically the only thing Congress is constitutionally required to do. So cancel your vacations to the Yosemite and forget about getting a last-minute passport, because right now the federal government is about as broke as a recent NYU graduate.
The spending bill was already a compromise, according to Obama, with across-the-board spending cuts that would have made any Republican in the 1960’s swoon. Let me welcome you to the 21st century, though, where the only good stamps are postage stamps and Obamacare presents a bigger threat to the US than Ted Cruz’s space-Nazi invasion.
Trying to be sneaky, the Republicans in the House decided to hide a clause to defund Obamacare within the budget. The bill was sent back to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, wasn’t too happy. In his speech on Thursday, Obama called out House Speaker John Boehner for giving in to the extremists of his party. The Republicans are preventing any spending bill – without healthcare restrictions – from reaching the floor for a vote. If Boehner allowed the House to vote on the bill, Obama predicted “the shutdown would end today.”
“This whole thing is about one thing,” Obama said. “The Republican obsessions with dismantling the Affordable Care Act.”
After over forty failed attempts at defunding the Affordable Care Act – a law, not a bill, declared constitutional by the Supreme Court and passed by a majority of Congress – you’d think that the Republicans would get the message: it’s not happening. Negotiate an end to the employer mandate; try to restructure the system for exchanges; but the entire law will not just disappear by holding the government hostage. Ironically, Obamacare is actually one of the few things completely unaffected by the government shutdown.
Obama aimed his message Thursday at House Republicans, blaming them for the “reckless Republican shutdown” and calling for an immediate vote. The president seemed confident that if the spending bill were to be brought to the floor, it would pass with bipartisan support. “That way,” he said, the “American people would be clear” who is for a shutdown and who opposes it. In other words, the American people deserve to know where congressmen would rather get nothing accomplished: inside or outside the Capitol.
Three days into the government shutdown, the only change you’ve probably noticed is all of your Facebook friends became political experts overnight. However, if the GOP continues to throw a temper tantrum, the entire country will be punished with more than sanctimonious social media rants. In two weeks, the U.S. government will no longer be able to pay its bills unless Congress raises the debt ceiling.
If the government defaults on its debts, dollars will be worth as much as monopoly money and a few closed national parks will be the least of our worries. Hopefully, a debt ceiling collision can be avoided. However, we’re relying on Congress to get something done, so don’t hold your breath (unless you’re Rand Paul or Mitch McConnell – then hold your breath and count to a million).