Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Memo to House Republicans: Own This Shutdown!!

Jon Stewart and his now infamous sidekick
I try not to be partisan on this news blog. As you all know, and as my lovely and very liberal wife can attest, I've been harshly critical of both parties, especially when it comes to their treatment of America's veterans. But c'mon, man, this is getting ridiculous. It's time the House Republicans responsible for this government shutdown removed one of their two faces and owned this thing. They've been talking about a shutdown as a winning strategy against Obamacare for months, and they all seemed quite giddy when they pulled it off last week.

At this point, though, it doesn't appear they're going to claim it, despite the hilarious and on-the-mark plea last night from The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. "You think Obamacare's a big enough threat to this country that you need to shut down the government over it?" asked Stewart. "Fine! Own it! Don't fart and point at the dog!"

The House Republicans' new strategy is indeed to break wind and then point fingers. They're now calling this mess the "Democrats' shutdown," which is demonstrably preposterous. 

Here's the deal: The radical wing of the GOP, which hates President Obama with every fiber of its being, is still fervently debating a bill that has already become law - and the rest of the Republican members of the House don't have the stuffing to speak up. 

The party has dug in its heels on this strategy - all but a few brave dissenters, anyway. And Obama doesn't appear willing to negotiate until Republicans agree to fund the government. 

So where does that leave our veterans? Up Shit Creek without a boat, evidently.

At a news conference this morning on Capitol Hill, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told us what we already know: the government shutdown is really hurting veterans.

He reminded us that thousands of Department of Veterans Affairs workers have been laid off, that the national call center for veterans wanting to take advantage of college benefits under the GI Bill has been shut down, and that VA offices that do personal interviews and hearings at regional offices for veterans seeking benefits are closed.

He said this shutdown is "hurting our entire country. It is especially difficult for our veterans’ community.” What he did not do was offer up any solutions. 

Sanders, a rare and refreshing straight shooter who's always been an outspoken and effective advocate for veterans, introduced legislation the night the government was shut down last week that would assure that veterans would be paid no matter how long the government was closed. 

But he now seems to be saying that the only solution is for the House Republicans to stop the madness.

It's pretty clear now that both sides are willing to let veterans and many other Americans suffer in order to save political face.

Sanders stated today that if this disastrous scenario occurs, "over four million veterans, service-members and survivors will not get the benefits they have been promised and depend upon. Without the necessary funds, VA will not be able to pay an average of $6.25 billion in monthly compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. That is an unimaginable disaster.”

Sanders explained that if the shutdown persists, November compensation payments to more than 3.8 million veterans will stop, as will payments to more than 364,000 survivors and over 1,200 children receiving special benefits. Pension payments will stop for almost 315,000 veterans and over 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents, and educational benefits will stop for more than half a million students. 

“Our veterans are not wealthy. Many of them depend on these benefits to feed themselves and their families, to pay their rent, to make ends meet,” Sanders said. “Our veterans deserve better."

I agree, Senator. Veterans deserve much better. But if the Republicans don't come to the table, what's your plan?


  1. Well, let's analyze this. Congress enacts laws. The Democrats insist the ACA is a compendium of Congress as a collective noun. Suddenly, the President, with no authorization from Congress, is modifying the compact to absolve the Amish and Catholics to be free of abortion regs. Next, again with no authorization from Congress, Hizzoner granted business (read Labor, etc.) a year's grace to comply. This exemption, however is not granted to those least able to afford it. We are held to a different standard yet there is no quid pro quo. I would say the pot is calling the kettle black here. What, exactly, would it entail, if business is granted a reprieve, to extend the process to us? Mr. Stewart? Mr. President? Ah, the sound of dog flatulence from the Casa Blanca...

    1. We aren't talking about a bill that is iiciti, we are talking about a bill that is approbatum. It is the law, upheld by the Supreme Court and affirmed by the re-election of Obama, who ran on this law. And while it certainly isn't perfect, it isn't the apocalyptic disaster Omaba's haters say it is. The point is, don't hold the government and the American people over a barrel because a minority of radicals in one of the three branches of government don't like a bill that has already passed. It is utterly untenable. For months, House Republicans who are now disingenuously calling this "Obama's shutdown" have been extolling the virtues of a shutdown. This is exactly what they wanted, and they were overjoyed when they got it. Now they are looking at the polls and are placing blame elsewhere for what they wrought. They need to man up and own it, they need to stop telling the public that the other side is responsible for this. This is not how government works. Yes, it is about compromise, but not at this point in the process. These extreme house repubs are holding our government and our veterans hostage. They are totally anti-government. They are not a part of the Grand Old Party that I grew up admiring. They have not done anything in office, most of them, all they know is that Obama is an evil Muslim who was born in Kenya and wants to destroy America. They are a joke and they are bad for the country. And reasonable Republicans know it but don't have the courage to say it. It's all about political survival now, not about what is best for the country. We do need some kind of modus vivendi, but I don't see how that is going to happen now.

  2. Stop this madness and open government and pay the bills authorized by both parties in Congress. Then, see where ACA can be improved. In the meantime Sanders and other Congressmen need to bring the American Legion, V.F.W. , Freedom Fighters and other Vet groups to D.C. to protest shutting the Government down. We need a March on Washington like never before to bring some sense to Congress. Just do it Vets. People will follow as well as Boehnor and Congress. This is crazy. The ACA is law just like other laws that you follow and then change. But NO CHERRY PICKING allowed.

  3. But if the Republicans don't come to the table, what's your plan to

  4. The recent shut down has indeed created a negative impact to the country's economy.

  5. If Obama care is so great then why doesn't our president or senators want it? I think they should have to live by the rules they set up for us.