Will they or won't they shut down the government tonight? This last week, as Congress has done its level best to drive the ship of state right over the cliff, I've grown more and more frustrated by the hype and pomp of the whole mess. Congress has a job: agree on a budget. They should do it.
I object strenuously to the patently ridiculous Tea Party claim that if we don't cut spending now the end is nigh. If I hear one more elected official speak about the future of endless debt we are leaving our children, I will hurl. Or reach through my radio and wring some necks.
While we should certainly consider long-term fiscal solvency in this nation, it's not really that complicated. And the real facts on the ground tell us that right now 25% of our children are living in poverty and are skipping meals. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing these kids could give a damn about the debt. They'd like decent health care, a safe place to live, good schools, and some nutritious food to eat.
It also rankles me that Republicans will only consent to spending cuts to the 12% of the budget that serves the needy. These social programs, though never generous to begin with, do keep some of our poor and frail citizens from falling deeply into the abyss. And don't get me started on the GOP's continued insistence on historically low tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. Or the raft of riders on issues like support for family planning and other matters unrelated to the budget task at hand. The rich get richer while Congressional Republicans proceed to cut programs to ensure that all children are vaccinated.
Well played, GOP.
It's not that Democrats are exempt from blame. Years of cowardly unwillingness to patiently explain how government is good and why it serves our community interests have left Democrats unable to defend the programs they believe in. And so Republicans run rough-shod over our ability to govern ourselves at all, let alone do it well.
If the government is shut down tonight it will cost us millions of extra dollars, not to mention demonstrate to the rest of the world that our proud democracy is ridiculously unable to compromise and work together for the common good. We elected members of Congress to govern and damn it, that's what they should do.
Update: So we have a budget, one with some big cuts, and now we'll all just have to hope this doesn't slow down (or stall) the recovery, which I fear it will.