By Dr. Harold Pease
As of day 9 of our federal government services slowdown (only 17 percent of which has been shutdown) it becomes very obvious that there are two warring sides and no middle. Democrats blame republicans and republicans blame democrats and confidence in our Congress is now at an all-time low of eleven percent. There appear to be no neutral news sources. So what are the indisputable facts that I can certify?
Every September the U.S. House of Representatives passes what is now referred to as a Continuing Resolution funding the government for another year. It is normal to have bickering over specific programs and amounts. It is also true that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House and that constitutional power was exclusively left with this branch in as much as it alone, of the two, was to represent the people, in this case protect them from excessive taxation. Not funding items is also a common practice and has not been particularly controversial or questioned until now. Funding is the constitutional prerogative of the House and the Senate should back away because by not doing so they do probable irreparable damage to Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution.
This aside, conservatives believe that it also will enhance federal power to the tune of one-seventh of the economy and will place the IRS in charge of mandatory collections, an organization presently accused of targeting conservatives, especially religious and Tea Party types, for extra scrutiny. Louis Learner, a prominent IRS administrator, having pled the Fifth to the above noted charges before Congress, reportedly referring to them as “terrorists.” Obviously Tea Party folks, whose core value is to get back to the Constitution, fear abuse of power should the federal government have both the power to enforce taxation and have access to medical records as well.
So why won’t the Democrats simply back off and honor what is traditional to honor? The House has agreed to fund the government—ALL OF THE GOVERNMENT—even the parts that they traditionally oppose, minus Obamacare, and they did so September 20, 2013—ten days before the shutdown. The Republican controlled House of Representatives DID NOT shut down the government but did just the opposite. It fully funded it giving the democrats every thing that they wanted without opposition except this one thing. Again, why won’t the democrats accept this? Because it is their signature legislation and they rightly see this as a threat to the legislation. Socialize healthcare they have coveted for fifty years.
On September 27, the democratically controlled U.S. Senate under Harry Reid stripped the defunding language out of the bill and sent it back to the House refusing to compromise. The next day the House Republicans still voted to fund the government entirely plus fund Obamacare, if Senate Democrats would delay Obamacare for one year for everyone and would repeal the medical device tax. To this point President Barack Obama had given exemptions to big business groups and Congress. In support of the public outcry, “I Want My One-Year Delay Of ObamaCare!” the House voted to give a one-year exemption to everyone, not just the privileged few.
Two days later, Sept. 30, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats refuse to compromise and stripped the two amendments from the Continuing Resolution returning it to the House. The House again agreed to full funding of the government, to delay the individual mandate for a year, and to take away the health care subsidies given members of Congress and their staffs earlier this year. Many wondered why Congress would pass a bill that they themselves would not abide by. Requiring Congress to live under Obmacare, just like the rest of the American people, was sure to move Senate Democrats. It didn’t.
As with the other compromises offered by the House in addition to fully funding the federal government, including every pet democratic expense, it was refused and stripped from the resolution. The House was the only body doing any compromising and it was doing so with itself from a position of strength to an ever weaker position. Some suggested that there was no need for the President or the Senate to compromise; the House did it for them. Still, the media wrongly blamed the republicans for the government shutdown.
Next the House appointed conferees and sent a message to the Senate requesting a conference meeting to resolve their differences. This too was rejected and on midnight Tuesday, October 1, the government shut down. On that same day the House began passing single authorization appropriation bills in an effort to keep payments flowing for veterans and for NIH kids with cancer. Other bills funded the National Guard, Head Start and the National Park Services—eleven spending bills to date. Harry Reid rejected them all.
The most recent House Republican compromise offer, October 9, was to create a super committee consisting of both parties to work out their differences on this issue plus the upcoming debt ceiling resolution due October 17. I predict that the republicans will eventually go for a higher debt ceiling and democrats the new Super Committee. This accomplished the Super Committee will talk itself into oblivion as have earlier Senate Super Committees and accomplish nothing leaving Obamacare funded after all. On debt ceiling raises the republicans are normally outfoxed and on defunding they have repeatedly compromised the strength of their position without any democratic help.