While federal officials wallow in denial and finger-pointing, precipitating a government shutdown; while they fight a fight simply for the sake of obstructing one another’s bills; while they continue to ignore the needs of their constituents by cherry-picking absurd causes in an absurd attempt to improve the thoroughly rotten facade they've built, there will be millions of people impacted by their behavior.
What the partisans of Capitol Hill view as important programs:
"We should pick the top, the critical priorities, the areas where, if the Democrats force a shutdown, the areas where there'll be the most pain, and let's address that — let's take them off the table. I think the House tonight ought to pass several continuing resolutions." - U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
"What you need to do is quit holding the national parks, the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum and others hostage to your desire to shut down the government — that's what's going on here. You think we're holding the Affordable Health Care Act hostage? You're holding our national parks hostage." - U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
It’s business as usual at the DC playground.
We all hate to see our national parks and memorials close, but while the DC children throw rocks and names at one another, some genuinely vital programs are in line for serious delays, many of which you may not have considered:
“HHS’ [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] contingency plans for agency operations in the absence of appropriations would lead to furloughing 40,512 staff and retaining 37,686 staff as of day two of a near-term funding hiatus. Put another way, 52% of HHS employees would be on furlough, and 48% would be retained.”
The people who caused this are the men and women we elected to administer the affairs of this country with her interests and only her interests being the utmost of priorities. Yet, here we are facing another monumental government failure as those we've entrusted our nation continue to serve only myopic goals and partisan interests.
As our elected officials continue to insult our intelligence playing this game of high stakes political poker with one another, many of the programs of apparently lesser importance than parks and memorials are in serious jeopardy.
WIC; the United States Department of Agriculture program which supplies food to millions of women and children living in poverty will very soon begin to suffer egregiously as the USDA will not be answering the call to support those in need of their services such as food and health care for pregnant mothers. Estimates are as many as 53 percent of infants and their mothers born in the US are receiving benefits through this program.
Defunding of the USDA will also impact others as well, including an estimated 23 million senior citizens and family members living in severe poverty who rely heavily on nutritional aid through Electronic Benefit Transfer, a service extraordinarily sensitive to financial constraints.
Veteran’s Administration; another vital service for those who have served our country selflessly will soon begin to see shortfalls in necessary funds requiring cutbacks as all support centers created to aid veterans in their search for those services will fall dark, impacting over 23 million veterans.
“VA has funds available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs will be suspended when funds are exhausted.”
The EPA, the agency charged with keeping our air and water clean and properly managing hazardous waste disposal, has furloughed all non-essential personnel.
A short listing of services negatively affected by the government shutdown here along with this list of government agency contingency plans provides some insight into the broader implications of an extended government shutdown.
Untold numbers of private sector businesses such as infrastructure construction projects, health care providers, and even state and city governments depend on a functional federal government. The government shutdown will impact virtually every citizen in some way, especially the individuals and families of more than two million federal employees, hundreds of thousands of them which are now furloughed without pay indefinitely.
The irresponsible behavior of partisanship will have a massive impact on the country’s economy for months, perhaps longer.
On HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell, Ms. Velez-Mitchell asked and important question yesterday, a question many of us have been asking for years; “is it time for a third party.”
Maybe a better question to ask is: “is it now time for NO party?”