Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Government Shutdown Should Shut Down Congressional Pay and Benefits
As recent as fifteen hours ago, my students and my son asked me if I thought the government shutdown was going to happen, and I answered no. My reasoning? They're not that stupid. Alas, Congress proves me wrong again. And, of course, I took to the social media waves when I realized that Congress will still be paid during the shutdown. That is ridiculous. They are federal employees. And if 800,000 other federal employees are locked out of their paychecks, that should extend to those responsible for making it happen. But I will go one step further - Freeze Congressional health benefits immediately. Because this whole ridiculous debacle is related to health insurance, Congress should lose access to health benefits until it is resolved. The Treasury should not pay their premiums and they should shoulder all medical costs out-of-pocket until they open the government's doors. And, to hear the news of Congressman being basically shit-faced drunk during the run-up to the shutdown, they and their livers may be inclined to solve this more quickly.
Ultimately, this attack on the very existence of government is unconscionable, even to those who sympathize with concerns about budgets and government overreach. And no one articulates that better at this point that conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan.
But there is something more here. How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections - think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.
It's just sad.