Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Core of the 2013 Budget Crisis

One hardly needs to be a politician to understand that our nation is in a crisis of leadership, right now. Today we enter the 4th full day of the government shutdown, and the American people are clearly fed up.

As Congress continues to debate over how "compromise" must come about, we have seen the government "shutdown" affect national parks, websites, memorials, and as I saw on facebook a few days ago, even the First Lady's Twitter feed.  In my opinion, this is true budget crisis. As a Public Policy major, I take an almost morbid curiosity in wondering "who will blink first," but even in the midst of this musing, I cannot forget what is truly on the line with this debate -- The healthcare system in our nation, and more importantly, the very meaning of compromise. 

From news articles to Twitter feeds to Youtube, we have all seen various perspectives on "who is right" with this issue. In a recent Op-ed in the New York Times, the author stated, 

"This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake [emphasis added]" (Source).

While I respect the author's belief, I cannot, under any circumstances, endorse such a perspective. For one, our government is based on popular sovereignty, but not majority rule. In fact, there are numerous institutions within the American system of government designed to check the "tyranny of the majority" as our founding fathers referred to it (ex. electoral college, no term limits for Supreme Court justices, etc...). Additionally, I contest the assertion made that the shutdown was forced by a "radical Tea Party minority."

For one, it is not the Tea Party alone that contests the budget that Senate Democrats would seek to propose. Even Speaker Boehner, a Republican known to be greatly disliked by the more conservative branch of his party, has been a player in these debates, holding that democrats must work with republicans in order to fix our budget crisis. 

Even more to the point, though, the Affordable Care Act is really the key issue that has sparked this controversy. According to Rasmussen,

"Thirty-six percent (36%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty percent (50%) disagree and oppose the so-called individual mandate. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided" (Source).
The majority of Americans do not want ObamaCare implemented. However, the implementation of ObamaCare is what this entire budget crisis is really about. Democrats want it implemented, Republicans do not. Even more to my point - while house republicans have repeatedly offered to fund ObamaCare, with the proviso that it be delayed for one year (as it has already been delayed for Congress and employers). Democratic leadership, however, will not even accept this basic compromise. Republicans, who oppose the entire legislation, have agreed to compromise their own beliefs about the quality of the legislation, in the interest of passing a budget, but Democrats refuse to accept the proposal because ObamaCare is delayed. 

This budget crisis is, indeed, a serious issue. I agree with the those around me and desire that Congress pass a budget, but I stand in support of the House Republicans for being the only members of our government willing to work with the other side to achieve a mutual benefit. When Democratic leadership finally recognizes that they themselves are what is prolonging this crisis, I can only hope they will have the integrity to come to an agreement, and get our country back on track.  

I leave you with this short clip:

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