Taxpayers not getting what they pay for in Congress

October 2, 2013

The current gridlock enveloping the U.S. Congress makes one wonder what would happen if our federal legislative branch actually worked the way it is supposed to.

This week the nation will see what it looks like when Congress fails, due to a government shutdown resulting from the inability of Congress to do its job as it was elected to do.

Apparently, House Republicans felt that because they lost the Obamacare battle, the best option was simply to allow the government to shut down and lay the blame on Democrats for failing to negotiate on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. Many parents may recognize this approach from their earlier years of parenthood when these grade school tactics ran rampant.

Of course the Senate rejected any offers to repeal, defund, or otherwise delay Obamacare. It was a bill approved by Congress, challenged in the Supreme Court, and then upheld. Its repeal was the basis for former Gov. Mitt Romney’s very unsuccessful run for president in 2012. It has been vetted and tested, and remains the law of the land.

And just because some elected officials in Congress did not get their way, it does not mean they should act like spoiled brats and make their constituents suffer with them — though much more extremely.

Locally, one of the first places impacted will be Buckhorn Lake, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, having to close its campgrounds. This, however, is simply a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 800,000 federal employees across the nation who will lose pay every day until some elected officials stop acting like children refusing to share building blocks on the playground.

And where is Kentucky’s representation in all of this, one may ask? Rep. Hal Rogers, our longtime Republican Congressman, fell in line with his party and laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Democratically controlled Senate.

“The Senate has just rejected the House’s third attempt to avoid a government shutdown. This body has voted time and time again to keep the lights on in our government and to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare. Unfortunately, our colleagues in the Senate have rejected these offers, and have refused to come to the table to find a solution,” Rogers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Let’s be honest here. Neither party is looking for a resolution; they are looking for the other to concede their position, which helps no one but the representatives and senators who will continue to be paid during the gridlock.

Obamacare may not be an ideal piece of legislation since, among other issues, it appears a lot of employees across the country — especially those in minimum wage positions — are going to lose their full-time status as billion-dollar companies look for ways to skirt the law’s requirements. However, those issues hardly constitute Congress’ prevention of the government from funding its day-to-day operations and workers.

Wouldn’t a better, and actual, solution to the problem be to simply work to fix what’s wrong with the law, instead of pouting and remaining frustratingly pigheaded and thoughtless?

In the days to come, the public will continually be bombarded with messages from leaders that it’s not their fault, it’s everyone else’s and they are just doing what the people want. The people of our region should remember this during election time to be sure to campaign publicly for leaders who do everything but lead.

— The Hazard Herald