The clock struck midnight and Washington was without a deal on the Continuing Resolution. We are officially in a partial government shutdown, the first one in 17 years.
Throughout the day yesterday, the House and the Senate lobbed legislation like ping-pong balls back and forth at each other. Each time, the House watered down its efforts to defund or delay ObamaCare and each time the Senate said that they would only accept a “clean” CR. The House offered a motion to go to conference, but today Senate Democrats voted to refuse to even talk to the Republicans. Reid says, “We will not go to conference with a gun to our head.” He says that the only thing they will accept is for the House to pass the clean Senate CR funding the government. That's it! No compromise will be made. They won't even allow for talks of compromise to proceed. That's where things stand in Washington these days.
How long will this last? Your guess is as good as mine, but with the debt limit debate just weeks around the corner, some have predicted that we will sit idle until that issue rears its ugly head. And by then it will be ugly. The debt limit debate carries a lot more weight when it comes to the potential economic impact. Not to mention, we will have the non-stop media barrage of stories of children not being able to get into local parks and people who missed vacations because they couldn't secure a passport.
While no one wants to see families furloughed, a prolonged government shutdown may call into question the concept of non-essential employees in the first place. If they aren't really necessary, why are we paying them to begin with if the government can function on a basic level without them? Imagine if we have a thriving economy, what all of these employees could do in the private sector? Don't worry though … Joe Biden still gets to keep 12 staffers in this shutdown, and Barack Obama gets to keep a whopping 129 staff members. Oh and the shutdown won't stop Democrats from attending ObamaCare celebrations on Capitol Hill today.
Then we have the blame game. Who will ultimately pay the price for this shutdown? Politically, the media and the Democrats would have you believe that it will be the Republicans. Democrats have ratcheted up the rhetoric, calling this a “Tea Party shutdown,” a “Banana Republican mindset,” another threat in the War on Women, “extremists,” “legislative arsonists,” likening Republicans to terrorists … you name it, the Democrats have gone there in terms of hyped rhetoric. And the Obama-mania media is willing to do their bidding. But the long-term political implications may not be as some would suggest. Gallup polling conducted after the government shutdown in 1995-1996 shows that Congressional approval actually rose as a result of the shutdown. Approval for Bill Clinton remained even while Newt Gingrich's approval only dropped two points. In other words, not a lot changed for how people viewed Washington or the political players involved.
I would say that the American people are ultimately paying the price for Washington's incompetence. For 33 months now, Washington has been forcing us from crisis to crisis, unable to get its fiscal house in order. This is unacceptable. It's no wonder why people are fed up with Washington. Polls taken just before the shutdown show that a majority of Americans would be “angry” or “frustrated” by a government shutdown. But it's partially our faults as well because we continue to elect these bureaucrats to Washington. One thing is for certain: Washington needs to figure out its budget woes, because we can't continue bouncing from crisis to crisis and we cannot continue on the current spending path.