With the ongoing budget battle in Congress and the GOP-led government shutdown — the first shutdown in 17 years — over funding the Affordable Care Act as of Tuesday, Oct. 1, it would seem that there is little dignity left in politics, at least on Capitol Hill. Despite the dozens of times congressional Republicans have tried to repeal the law since it was enacted in March 2010, with the Democratic majority in the Senate, conservatives in the House of Representatives were always sure to lose. With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in June, the time, energy and money wasted in attempts to repeal it, defund it and/or dismantle it just prove what a joke Congress has become, or at least the majority of those in the House who have made blocking the Affordable Care Act their mission impossible. And while we support some of those who have dedicated their lives as public servants in Sacramento and D.C., this debacle regarding affordable health care for all makes a mockery of politics in general.
Remember how the sequester, a supposed threat that was too big and that had cuts too drastic so that no lawmaker would see it through, came and went and little has been said about how awful it has been other than the fact that multiple federal agencies have had to scale back and make do with less. What makes this particular occasion, this idiotic show of being right at all costs for certain Republican lawmakers, is the hypocrisy in their actions. Maybe they think that this can just be brushed under the carpet, Americans none the wiser about politics as usual. We certainly hope, however, that voters don’t forget. This government shutdown has been projected to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per day in lost economic output, according to Lexington, Massachusetts-based IHS, a global market research firm, with more than 800,000 federal workers on furlough. Isn’t a government shutdown the epitome of job-killing and debt-building?
This moronic “showdown” over the budget, however, was not a big surprise. With Congress’ approval rating at an all-time low, a recent Gallup poll showing around 19 percent and a CNN poll around 10 percent, what should we expect from those we perceive as incompetent leaders? Sure, both sides have an ax to grind. Allegedly, Democrats have bleeding hearts for the poor at the cost of employers and Republicans are too hard-nosed to distress the pocketbooks of employers, aka job creators. But the approval ratings of our legislators didn’t just shrink overnight. They actually have had to work at disappointing their constituents over time. The real mystery in all of this is, if Americans don’t like what their lawmakers are doing, then why do so many incumbents get re-elected? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, over the last 20 years, nearly 90 percent of House incumbents and roughly 85 percent of Senate incumbents have been re-elected.
As Americans and the world watch for what House Republicans will do as the debate over the debt ceiling approaches, there is no real way to put into words the dismay and frustration we feel over this futile and embarrassing display of such self-serving tactics. It seems as though this battle isn’t really over health care, or bolstering job creation, or individual responsibility. It reeks of, simply, being right. But let’s face it — being right in politics is an oxymoron. So if the executive branch won’t budge and the judicial branch isn’t on your side and half of the legislative branch is against you, and further, the number of people enrolling in the various insurances exchanges is growing in all states, then what exactly is this all about? We are hard-pressed to find a legitimate excuse for this nonsense on Capitol Hill. But we digress. Maybe this is just another round of politics as usual and we, the general public, voters, will forget all about this, come next election cycle. And that’s the truly distressing part.