The newest recycling of America’s spending crisis is congressional terrorism, a budget war directed at taxpayers. There is nothing new about what we are hearing from Capitol Hill. The same types of threats were leveled by the White House over the sequester:
In eight days, harmful automatic cuts are slated to take effect, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.¹
The president has never been shy about placing blame for that bright idea, playing dumb about his involvement in the Budget Control Act that was passed two years ago amidst another round of threats of a federal shutdown:
The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people?²
That shutdown was averted with a scheme for fiscal responsibility cheered by both parties as a bipartisan victory, a grand compromise reached by hardworking lawmakers for our benefit (see: Halting the Sequester Will Be a Historic Betrayal). Two years, one sequester, and no progress later, we are right back where we started, hearing threats to cut off services our government forced us to pay for.
Elected representatives or congressional terrorists?
For those who make a living running their mouths on Capitol Hill, the 2011 congressionally-inspired whack to America’s credit was not a big enough reminder that their theatrics have consequences despite tacit, bipartisan agreement that budget wars will be resolved at the eleventh hour.
Not surprisingly, the bitterest battles and best media coverage come from warring over the cost of services that directly impact taxpayers like health care, unemployment insurance, social services, and entitlements. This should be enough to clue us in to Congress’s bipartisan scam and explains the abrupt about-faces and position shifts just before budget battles go away. How else could congressional leaders stay in office year after year and even decade after decade while maintaining partisan stances that are irreconcilable?
Bipartisan agreement to wage 2013’s budget war against taxpayers.
We keep hearing charges that Washington governs by crisis. Crisis has little to do with Congress’s new dog and pony show. With midterms coming in 2014 legislators are too protective of their own hides to risk a shutdown, but that doesn’t mean that threatening taxpayers is off the table, whether the threats are coming from conflict between Democrats and Republicans or factions in the GOP that call Boehner and McConnell’s leadership into question.
At least Barack Obama is honest, or can mimic what stands for honesty in the political arena. He admits that things are still grim on his watch as the rhetoric escalates over the budget and the debt ceiling:
It was a crisis from which we’re still trying to recover. But thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, we are steadily recovering.³
Our president gives credit where credit is due. The economy is creeping along despite what seems like a bipartisan agreement to make things worse.
When the House passed a resolution in 2012 to keep the government running, the Committee on Appropriations spoke of “passing critical funding legislation in the way the Constitution intended …”4 How many of the services a shutdown would cut off have anything to do with the responsibilities of government our founders committed to paper? If we stuck to the principles this country was based on, Washington would have a lot less to threaten us with.