Last night Congress failed to agree on a spending plan, resulting in a nationwide government shutdown. Early this morning, federal employees around the country deemed “nonessential” were forced to take an indefinite holiday. For those unfamiliar with the situation, it goes something like this: the Republican-dominated House wants to
repeal paralyze the Affordable Care Act while the Democrat-dominated Senate wants to implement it. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is popularly known, was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. Despite severe resistance, the law was deemed constitutional at the federal level by the US Supreme Court in 2012. Since then, the Obama administration has faced an uphill battle to implement the law and last night proved to be the culmination of this bitter battle between Congressional leaders. Having declared Obamacare as a hard line in the sand, both sides were unable to reach an agreement on federal spending. And so, this morning the nation awoke to a brave new world.
(image via angrycritter.com)
As a recent grad, I admit that I may still be wide-eyed and naive in the ways of the world, but from what I have observed there is no other profession like politics where uncompromising stubbornness is acceptable. In neither academia, the private sector, or even family life is such pigheaded obstinacy applauded. For the sake of the company, project, or familial unit we are taught to choose our battles wisely and compromise–live to fight another day. Those unwilling to play ball are either ignored or given the boot. Yet today it would appear that our elected congressional leaders have chosen this bloody battle at the expense of the American people. I suppose it would be hard to compromise when you continue to be paid regardless of a shutdown.
In addition to the many personal difficulties the shutdown will engender (uncertain salaries, loan applications, and waste collection), the shutdown will also stunt the growth of our still struggling economy. And for what? Disagreement over a yet to be fully implemented law that has already undergone scrutiny by all three branches of government. If a law is unconstitutional then of course it must be stopped. But the Supreme Court has already examined the law and passed its verdict. At least let the law run its course; challenge the law when a constitutional right has been violated. Instead, House leaders have chosen to fight a battle that has already been lost, arguing over hypotheticals while dealing very real damage to our nation’s economy, domestic morale, and international image. It is a sad day when our nation’s leaders choose to use their constituents as pawns in a political game of chicken. Sometimes it is important to know when to humbly admit defeat; in fact, the bitterness of defeat often fuels the fire for future victories.