Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 8, 2013

The five disgusting Ps of the Obama/Reid Government Shutdown


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — We are led to believe the government shutdown is one of the worst things to afflict the country since ... well, pick something.

But that’s just more exaggeration from the left in Washington and in the media. The vast majority of Americans would not notice the shutdown absent the barrage of horror stories we’ve been treated to, and one other factor.

Shutdowns aren’t that unusual. Since 1976 there have been 17. Six occurred during the Carter administration, eight during the Reagan administration, one during the elder Bush administration, and two during the Clinton administration.

Most lasted less than a week, but in the Carter administration four lasted 10 days or more, and the longest of all those shutdowns in 1996 lasted 21 days. On average, government shutdowns last about six and a half days. There has been a lag in shutdowns since 1997 in the second Clinton term, through the George W. Bush administration, and through the first Obama term.

There is obvious discomfort among furloughed federal workers. However, the House of Representatives voted Saturday to fund back pay, which is what usually happens in shutdowns. So, the real pain will be felt by some of the American people, due to the aforementioned “other factor.”

Three things are true about this shutdown: First, the Republican-led House passed three bills to restore government funding. Second, each House measure also sought to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And third, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to act on the House measures and President Obama threatened to veto them.

From this we see: a) House Republicans want to reopen the government and passed three measures to do so, and also wanted to save the American people from the ACA with its broken promises, serious problems and goodies given to large employers and members of Congress and their staffs. And b), to Sen. Reid and President Obama, putting the furloughed employees back to work, activating the inactive government functions and opening closed facilities are far less important than implementing the highly flawed ACA.

Mr. Obama is comfortable in his “It’s good to be the king” self-indulgence. But, he’s not “the” king, or even “a” king; he is merely the president of the United States, which is certainly an important and powerful position, but the executive branch of which he’s the head is just one-third of our government.

Those who took civics or other classes in American government know that among the ingenious features of the U.S. Constitution are the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, which were designed to prevent any one branch from acquiring more power than the other two.

Mr. Obama — who was reportedly a constitutional law lecturer — believes that the president is the most important figure in the government, ignoring the Constitutional prohibition of any branch gaining the degree of power and control he desires.

Democrats hold this perspective about the ACA:

• It was passed by Congress and signed by the president.

• The Supreme Court found it constitutional.

• There was an election that confirmed the country’s support for Obamacare.

• Thus, the matter is settled: The ACA is the law of the land. End of discussion.

This scenario is rife with weaknesses. Every Republican in the House also won election in 2012, and nothing prevents a law being repealed or amended. And remember that at one time slavery was the “law of the land,” and Congress made a huge error in abolishing the sale of alcohol through the 18th Amendment.

Congress can right wrongs in the law, as it did with slavery; it can repeal bad laws, as it did with the 18th Amendment. And, it can repeal, defund or amend the error-ridden ACA.

Because Republicans did not lie down and let the Democrats have their way, we have been treated to the aforementioned “other factor,” the 5 Ps: the petulant, peevish, petty and punkish political behavior that characterizes the shutdown.

Faced with an obstinate opposition party, President Obama convened his strategy team from a nearby elementary school, where members of the third grade gathered on the playground to formulate a plan.

Noting that monuments and memorials were not closed during previous shutdowns, they recommended this tactic to cause pain: Close national parks and monuments, as well as some facilities that receive no federal funds and are not federally owned, like Mount Vernon. Close Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay to commercial fishing. Place barriers to block the World War II Memorial that has no gates and is wide open to visitors. Tell people who rent slips for their live-on boats or own homes on Lake Mead they can’t stay there. Block scenic overlooks, like at Mount Rushmore, by placing traffic cones that prevent drivers from pulling over to view the monuments. Perfect third-grade strategy.

Wesley Pruden, writing in The Washington Times, quoted an angry Park Service Ranger, who confirmed that attitude: “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” he said. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

You see, if the shutdown doesn’t hurt people, it doesn’t help the Democrats.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.