Let’s get clear about the political realities behind the budget impasse in Washington and the government shutdown.
Nothing captures the distortions being perpetrated more than the headline of a Washington Post column by columnist Anne Applebaum. “The GOP Undermines Democracy,” it reads.
And, according to President Obama, a “faction” of Republicans (read tea party) is holding the nation hostage to their “ideological demands.”
After all, isn’t it true that the health-care law is the law of the land? Isn’t it also true that it passed constitutional muster before the U.S. Supreme Court? And isn’t it also true that we have a president, who champions this health-care law, who has been elected twice?
But it is also true that the brilliant architects of the American Constitution provided many checks and balances and a multitude of channels through which the will of the people may, at all times, be expressed.
The move by the Republican-controlled House to pass a bill to authorize spending for the federal government, but to not include authorization for spending for the health-care bill, is totally legitimate, appropriate and constitutional.
The Constitution vests the power of the purse in Congress.
Here is what James Madison, who drafted the American Constitution, had to say:
“The power of the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effective weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
The fantastic news is the system is working!
And, ironically, those like Washington Post columnist Ms. Applebaum, tell us that Republicans, who are boldly exercising their responsibilities and authority under our Constitution, are undermining democracy.
And, ironically, our president refuses to sit down and negotiate with Republicans who are constitutionally representing popular sentiment, and then he says they are the “ideologues.”
The latest RealClearPolitics.com average of polls on the health-care bill shows 51.4 percent against/oppose and 39.4 percent for/favor.
This average of polls on the health -care bill shows that not once has public sentiment been, on balance, for the health-care law since it was enacted.
Days before President Obama signed it into law, in March 2010, 49.3 percent were against/opposed and 40.1 percent were for/favor.
Against prevailing public sentiment, Congress passed the law without a single Republican vote, using parliamentary gymnastics that few can even explain today. And yet Republicans are being accused of hijacking the system.
According to University of Dallas economist Michael Cosgrove, in 1979, 20 percent of American households received more government-transfer payments than they paid in taxes. By 2009, this was up to 60 percent.
With all the crocodile tears about inconvenience that this shutdown may cause some nonessential government workers, the real tears should be for the massive loss of jobs in our economy due to a barely recovering economy, larded down with government, debt and a welfare state culture.
Stanford economist Edward Lazear reports in the Wall Street Journal that only 58.5 percent of our working-age population is employed today, compared to more than 63 percent prior to the recession.
Last June Lazear wrote, “At the present slow rate of job growth, it will take more than a decade to get back to full employment defined by pre-recession standards.”
A new Gallup polls shows 60 percent of Americans saying the federal government has too much power, the highest percentage ever recorded by Gallup.
President Obama is intentionally playing to the cracks in the Republican Party. He knows Republican leadership is weak-kneed.
Our main worry should be that Republican leaders will cave in. The country is lost. We need principled and courageous leadership now. The tea party is the solution, not the problem.