Fun fact: An up or down vote in Congress would guarantee the government shutdown would end immediately. There are enough votes in Congress to keep the government open right now. Everyone could go back to work, and the US government would not risk a catastrophic default on the national debt in two weeks.
Only problem is, that vote won’t happen because the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refuses to consider it. He can cause almost a million people to lose their jobs and can cause god-only-knows levels of economic harm to America. He can do this because of the ‘Hastert Rule’, in which the party that controls Congress sets the entire agenda. Thus a 'majority of the majority’ - roughly 30-40 people in Congress, can destroy the entire American economy if they wanted to, which is exactly what has just begun. The only catch is because their congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered, they are unlikely to be voted out of office. The combination of gerrymandering, the 'Hastert Rule’, and the low-risk for Congressmen can do much more damage to this country than Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein ever could.
Oh, and the government funding bill that is rejected by Congress (but really John Boehner) would only fund government for 2 months. Then this would all happen over again, and again, and again. The first time he would be able to cancel Healthcare Reform. But what about in 2 months? The EPA maybe? If this kind of manipulation of the American budget process becomes acceptable, what isn’t on the table? What kind of future does that mean?
The debt ceiling, which comes up on October 17th, can wreck incredible devastation on the economy. If Congress does not pay the bills for the spending Congress has authorized, then America will default on its debts. That means interest rates will rise. Your student loans, your mortgage, these are about to cost a lot more money. But it gets worse.THE AMERICAN DOLLAR IS THE RESERVE CURRENCY OF THE WORLD. A default on the National Debt could, and most likely would, lead to a global recession worse than 2008. And if other governments shift to another reserve currency, as would be their right, then it only gets worse for Americans.
Why are we even talking about this? Who in their right mind would hurt America like that? The answer is in Congress. Right now, John Boehner will not allow Congress to vote on an increase in the debt ceiling unless:
1) The Keystone pipeline is built 2) The Environmental Protection Agency stops regulating carbon 3) Delay Healthcare Reform 4) Adopt the Mitt Romney budget 5) Means Test Medicare 6) Tort Reform 7) End the Citizens Financial Protection Bureau
…and much more. Do it, or else America enters a massive recession and loses its place as a great nation. And remember - this only lasts for one year. Next year, there will be a whole bunch more demands. You may agree with some of these proposals on their own merit, but do you believe blackmail is an appropriate way to pass them?
There is no American government, at least the kind that we recognize, in the future if this becomes normal. An election is a formality - a dedicated minority of Congressmen can do anything they want, and can avoid losing elections by redrawing their districts. Remember - more than 1 million people voted for Democratic representation in the House in 2012 while electing President Obama and a Democratic Senate. But that didn’t matter because the House is so heavily gerrymandered that Republicans are safe, and from that perch can threaten the solvency of the country they pretend to love.
This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats. If it makes you feel better, pretend it is President Ronald Reagan dealing with Nancy Pelosi, and she is threatening a financial catastrophe unless Reagan taxes the wealthiest Americans at 90% and redistributes their wealth to the International Association of Tree Huggers.The point is, our system of government is now structured in a way such that this kind of lunacy is possible.
It doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat. You can support health care reform or thing it is a bad idea/implementation. That is beside the point. The fact that this much damage can be caused shows that our government is broken structurally. This isn’t as simple as voting people out. We have to change the structure itself. For example, this can all be prevented under these reforms to the way Congress functions:
1)If the 'Hastert Rule’ is thrown out. That way, it is an open up-or-down vote for legislation in Congress, period. No one person can prevent a vote.
2) If Congress refuses to pass a budget or raise the debt ceiling, then they are all automatically fired and new elections are held. Period.
3) If the lines that divide congressional districts are drawn by an independent, non-partisan 3rd party commission to prevent political bias from entering the process.
Yeah, those 3 things are probably enough to fix it. There is much more that can be done, but those three (which are fair and non-partisan) would go a long way to fixing the mess we are in. We can’t vote away this problem. We have to deal with the fact that our national dysfunction is structural. The script is written no matter who we elect to act out the parts.
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, now is the time to be an American first and stop this kind of exploitation and blackmail by Congress.