Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ArmChair Obama™: How Do You Avoid A Gubb'ment Shutdown?!?

A battle is brewing here in DC, as the Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked in a pissing match to prove who's the biggest d*ckhead. Should nothing magical happen between now and Friday night, the Federal government will go into shutdown mode, and the results for "Real Americans" could be far reaching and catastrophic. Or not.

First, how about we clear up some misconceptions about what would happen in the event of a shutdown? The Washington Post has a great piece explaining who'll keep working (and getting paid) and who won't.
With negotiations over the fiscal 2011 budget collapsing, officials warned that the impact of a federal government shutdown would stretch from the Internal Revenue Service to the Smithsonian Institution to battlefields abroad.

Most federal employees still don’t know whether they would have to work during a shutdown, but Cabinet secretaries and other agency bosses began answering questions late Tuesday by distributing a Q&A regarding the effect such an event would have on federal pay and benefits.

The guidance warns that employees may not voluntarily work during a shutdown and that all essential and nonessential personnel would be paid only if Congress approved such funding after a shutdown ended. Any workers scheduled to take paid leave would not be able to, and some would be eligible for unemployment benefits if a shutdown continued for more than a few days.

A shutdown would also affect pay for members of the military, said senior government officials familiar with the planning. If the current funding expires on Friday, in the middle of the military’s two-week pay period, the Defense Department would distribute paychecks for the first week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

In an effort to avoid such disruption, House Republicans introduced legislation that would pay troops if a deal isn’t reached. Congressional aides couldn’t say whether such a bill would pass either chamber before Friday.

Many civilian federal workers are not expected to learn their fates until Monday morning, said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. If a worker is furloughed, she said, he or she would have up to four hours in most cases to collect personal belongings and leave.

Other officials familiar with plans warned privately that the IRS would cease processing refunds for paper-submitted tax returns. The Federal Housing Administration would withhold guarantees for home loans.

Managers at the National Archives said all of its operations would shutter, with the exception of workers who protect collections. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health who do clinical work would be considered essential, an agency official said.

The Department of Homeland Security would suspend its e-Verify system, which allows employers to check a worker’s immigration status, officials said. But most of DHS’s 230,000 employees hold jobs that would continue during an impasse — without pay. Agents would still protect U.S. borders, airport security guards would screen passenger bags, and the U.S. Coast Guard would continue to patrol the nation’s waters.
So to repeat, it's not like everyone's gonna be ass out come Monday morning. Planes will still fly, Social Security, unemployment, and welfare checks would still be mailed out. This isn't Armageddon, well unless you work for the Feds in one of those "nonessential" roles, like my sister in law, who is already preparing to not get paid for a minute. Still, it's completely avoidable, and the lack of grownups in the room negotiating this nonsense show just how screwed we are as a country.

The Democrats could have avoided all this had they simply passed a budget, oh, about 7-8 months ago. Instead, scared sh*tless in an election year and cautious of their own shadows of doing anything that might alienate potential voters, they decided to punt on this issue (as well as dealing with the Bush tax cuts). To now act as if they're the sane party after repeatedly kicking the can down the road in the form of Continuing Resolutions, the Dems have now backed the country into a corner that we really should never have been in.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are using this who deficit discussion as a charade to practice ideological/class warfare, as usual. Holding up a budget over frivolous sh*t like funding NPR and Planned Parenthood, which only contribute a minuscule amount to the hole we're in shows what these guys are really about. Their insistence on catering to the clearly diminished power of the Tea Party confirms my worst fears about what "leadership" under John Boehner would look like. Predictably, the GOP's longterm goal for driving down the deficit (as authored by Paul Ryan) is more "Us vs Them" smoke and mirrors that easily fails the fact check smell test. More massive tax cuts for the wealthy and multinational corporations that won't create a single job. Less money for community bloc grants, shifting the funding for Medicaid to states, killing ObamaCare, and slashing Pell Grants. The rich get richer, the poor get anally *****. It's like The Reagan Years, revisited.

No thanks, sir.

Of course, the guy who should be leading the charge to bridge the gap between the GOP's desired $60M in cuts and the Dem's $30 alternative is President Obama. You'd think this would be one of the rare times when he'd abandon his "go along to get along" style of leadership and put a foot in someone's a$$. And you'd be wrong, as usual.


Jesus, if there's an allegedly "inspirational" figure who is consistently less "inspirational", I'd love to see him.

Let's face it, the ballsyness folks want to project on Obama is never gonna happen. Never. You can wish for it all you want, but he's shown no inclination to deliver. It's not who he is, nor who he'll ever be. Ever.

He is leadership style is all about delegation and compromise, not conflict. More times than not, this tactic (although I personally hate it) wins. I suspect he'll quietly get the Dems and GOP together behind closed doors and work out an 11th hour compromise (say, cutting $40B or so) that makes both parties look less inept, avoiding this shutdown. He'll look like a saint, the GOP will blame him for taking all the credit, he'll see a bounce in his approval ratings, and everyone will forget about this a week from now.

Call Obama lots of things (and I sure have), but don't ever call him dumb. His track record clearly shows that he knows what he's doing more times than not. And besides, even if this does result in a work stoppage, past history (see Clinton vs Newt in 95') proves that the public seldom blames the executive office instead sparing their wraths for the legislative branch. I'm sure his advisors have informed him of this. Silly as it might sound, this is a win-win either way for Obama.

Anyways, you're ArmChair Obama™. Fix this nonsense before these morons ruin my weekend trip to the National Zoo.

Question: Play ArmChair Obama™. What would you do to avoid the oncoming government shutdown?

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