Saturday, September 24, 2011

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

When it comes to Washington politics, there’s no such thing as a statute of limitations on stupidity.  In fact, the dumber the better.  Watching Congress making the sausage is like watching a really bad movie while being strapped down to your Lazy Boy chair. You want to leave the room but you can’t get up. And the worst thing about it is that you’ve seen this movie before; you know the plotline, as well as the ending, and yet all you can do is sit there and wait for the inevitable, nauseating ending you know is coming.

Once more the government is on the brink of a shutdown, just like it was last December and this past April.  Once more, Republicans have pointed a loaded gun at the country and once more we get to see why the American people have nothing but contempt for their elected officials.

The House on Friday passed a continuing resolution that would’ve funded the government through November 18th just two days after Tea Party Republicans and many Democrats had balked at a “softer, gentler” bill.  By a 59 to 36 margin, the Senate voted to table it.  Why? Because it contained offsets to fund FEMA.

And while the GOP must once again grapple with the wingnuts who currently control it, Democrats might very well end up kicking themselves in the pants for their intransigence.  Why? Because nobody is winning this insipid war, that’s why.  Sure Republicans are taking more heat, and sure the Tea Party has badly damaged the GOP brand, so much so that poor old John Boehner may end up with the Purple Heart – not to mention battle pay – before all this is over.  But make no mistake about it: out there in independent land – where all elections are decided – the mood towards both parties is getting decidedly ugly.  Consolation prizes don’t mean much when you have to explain why grandma didn’t get her social security check.

The contention this time was over the demand by Republicans that in order to get $3.7 billion in disaster aid, along with enough funding to keep the government running into mid November, Democrats would’ve been required to come up with $1.5 billion in offsets.  Excuse me for being the lone wolf here in progressive land, but, federally speaking, $1.5 billion in cuts is analogous to having to pay for your fortune cookie at a Chinese buffet. Somebody give me a quarter, please!

Yes, I know that Republicans wanted the $1.5 billion to come from an Energy Department clean air fund to pay for the disaster relief.  So what?  If you’re the Democrats you get back in there and tell the Republicans, “You got your cuts; we’ll decide where they come from!”  What you don’t do is vote “no.” Not when the lives of so many people are hanging in the balance.  The truth is that if 22 more Democrats had voted for the original House bill on Wednesday, in all likelihood the continuing resolution would’ve passed the Senate and might well have been signed by President Obama.  Now both Republicans and Democrats will have to pull another rabbit out of a hat to avoid the unthinkable: a government shutdown.

This was the headline in The Huffington Post:

Government Shutdown Looms After Senate Blocks Short-Term Funding Bill

And that was a liberal publication.  You could argue that the only other sites more to the left than HuffPo are Mother Jones and the Socialist Review.  Don’t bother checking out the conservative ones; it only goes downhill from there.  Trust me, this isn’t going well for either party, and right now Democrats need to start playing catch up, not tit for tat.

Repeat after me: $1.5 billion.  That’s right, $1.5 billion. Kinda sounds stupid doesn’t?  Trust me, folks, in millions of homes around the country it sounds a helluva lot stupider. You have to know when to pick your fights in politics.  Once more, Democrats have proven that they aren’t up to even this simple task.  Think about it; Republicans were willing to fund the government through mid November and fund FEMA to the tune of $3.7 billion, and all it would’ve required is $1.5 billion in cuts.  If you ask me that was a gift horse that Democrats should not have looked in the mouth.

But what do I know?  I’m just a frustrated pragmatic progressive who desperately wants his nation to succeed and who is scared shitless about what might happen to it if the Tea Party ever gets a real hold of it.

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