Thursday, April 7, 2011
Shut 'er down? I Dare You.
The federal government might shut down and people are cheering.
Tea Partiers reportedly broke out into chants of "Shut it down!" during an Americans for Prosperity rally on Capitol Hill yesterday. And House Speaker John “Oompa Loompa” Boehner’s office is denying reports that members of his caucus cheered after he told them he was preparing for a government shutdown.
Boehner claimed at a White House meeting two days ago that he could secure the necessary votes for a budget continuation if Democrats were willing to increase spending cuts to $40 billion from the currently proposed $33 billion.
The government is going to run out of funds tomorrow and Republicans are holding out for seven billion dollars in spending reductions?
Let’s see. Extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans prevented as much as $300 billion from going into federal coffers each year. The U.S. Treasury estimates the total revenue loss from the tax cuts will come to $3.9 trillion over 10 years.
The unwinnable, endless war in Afghanistan has cost more than $393 billion to date. Yet even though military spending is the single largest discretionary spending item in the budget and there are blatant examples of Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse, Boehner and his ilk are insisting that the Pentagon be left alone.
Too bad. Seems like the Pentagon budget and the Bush tax cuts represent a lot of cost-cutting potential. (I’m not talking about reducing what we’re giving our soldiers in the field. I’m talking about bringing ‘em home.)
This shutdown could last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. The Congressional Research Service found that shutdowns in the 1970s and 1980s ranged from three to 17 days. The most recent lasted 21 days, from mid-December 1995 to early January 1996.
A shutdown could freeze investigations by federal regulators, prevent members of the military from getting paid, and idle 800,000 of the 1.9 million civilian federal workers.
The processing of applications for social security benefits could be delayed and backlogs increased. The National Institutes of Health would not admit new patients to its research hospital or begin new clinical trials of drugs, devices and treatments. And the Federal Housing Administration, the largest insurer of mortgages in the world, could not make new loan guarantees for homebuyers.
National parks would be closed. (During previous government shutdowns in '95 and early '96, the National Park Service lost approximately seven million visitors when 368 sites were shuttered.) The National Archives, federal monuments and memorials, and the Smithsonian Institution’s museums would also be closed. An estimated 500,000 visitors could be turned away this weekend alone from the National Zoo and the major Smithsonian museums on the Mall.
And in the District of Columbia, around 14,000 of the city’s 35,000 workers would be furloughed, street sweeping and routine road repairs would be suspended, and trash wouldn’t be collected. From what I understand, there’s a whole lot of trash in Washington, DC.
At least we can all breathe a little easier knowing that the U.S. Postal Service is self-funded so we’ll still be able to send our money to the Internal Revenue Service to pay for congressional salaries.
I understand Blubbering Boehner told George Snuffleupagus on ABC News that there’s “no daylight” between the Tea Party and him when it comes to shutdown negotiations. “What they want is, they want us to cut spending,” he said. “They want us to deal with this crushing debt that’s going to crush the future for our kids and grandkids. There’s no daylight there.”
I strongly suggest you stop kissing Tea Party ass, Mr. Speaker. The Tea Partiers I’ve seen and heard are absolutely not qualified to help shape public policy. They really aren’t. I wouldn’t even let them babysit.
Quit playing politics and do your job, dude. Your imaginary mandate is long gone and people are rioting in the streets. Shut the government down and I’m afraid you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Sources: Talkingpointsmemo.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Politico.com, News.yahoo.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Costofwar.com, Congressional Research Service