America faces two very serious budget problems: Democrats, and Republicans. Partisan wrangling over the brief shutdown of about 17 percent of the federal government has been unnecessarily long and convoluted because both sides keep repeating their misleading talking points and diverting attention away from the central issue — deficits and debt — and toward extraneous or irrelevant topics.
I’ve taken a lot of flak from establishment media types and angry federal employees for my contention that the hullabaloo over the so-called government “shutdown” is excessive. The fact is most government activities have not stopped and most government employees continue to work. However, one activity that has stopped – and, man, this is personal – is the approval of new beer labels and recipes.
You may remember the scene in Animal House where Kevin Bacon plays a fraternity pledge being hazed. Down on all fours getting paddled, Bacon says, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
On Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes profiled Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) on-going investigation of fraud and abuse in the federal government’s two main disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (see Chris Edwards’ discussion here). Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (Coburn is the ranking member) held a hearing on a particularly egregious example centered on the Social Security Administration’s Huntington, WV office.
The abuse and overspending in government disability programs is so bad that even National Public Radio and 60 Minutes have taken notice. On the heels of this excellent NPR examination of the “disability industrial complex,” the venerable CBS news show last night profiled Senator Tom Coburn’s efforts to uncover fraud in the two big federal disability programs.
Alexander Hamilton won in the end. As Treasury Secretary in the 1790s he championed an array of “internal” taxes to supplement federal revenues from import tariffs. Thomas Jefferson despised Hamilton’s internal taxes as assault on liberty, and when elected in 1800 he made sure that they were abolished.
It’s looking like it will take a week or more for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement to “reopen” the federal government. Regardless, with each passing hour a resolution necessarily becomes closer at hand because a so-called “government shutdown” effectively means that a budgetary impasse in our two-party dominated system has reached the end stage.
A benefit of the government shutdown may be that it slows the stream of waste and bad behavior flowing from the federal bureaucracy. Catching up on my reading, I noticed these items in just the last few days of the Washington Post:
All eyes are on the government shutdown battle over Obamacare. Here are a few thoughts:
Word on the street is that today House Republicans will pass a bill that would keep non-essential government functions open until mid-December, delay ObamaCare for one year, but not block the illegal ObamaCare exemption President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management granted to members of Congress and their staff. If Republicans fail to include language blocking that exemption, they truly deserve the moniker of The Stupid Party.