Finally in the 11th hour, the United States Congress has reached an agreement to continue funding our government until next Thursday cutting $2 billion from the budget. They claim that this will give them time to work out the details of a budget to fund the government for the remainder of 2011. Let’s hope that this comes to fruition.
First of all, In my view, after watching the speeches of both Sen. Harry Reid (D) and Speaker John Boehner (R), I felt as though I was watching the Academy Awards. If Senator Reid, thanked one more person, I think I would be sick. I was waiting for him to thank his producer and his agent, thank God that didn’t happen. The bottom line is that neither the democrats nor the republicans should have ever allowed this budget showdown to occur and they certainly shouldn’t expect a pat on the back from the American people for doing the jobs that they were elected to do.
The lives of over 1,000,000 Americans hung in the balance while this crisis deepened, and yet our politicians couldn’t seem to even agree on what they disagreed about. Then to make matters worse some members of congress stated that they would not accept their paychecks if the federal government shutdown. I’m certain that this was little consolation to those making $30,000 per year when predominantly wealthy politicians state that they will go without their paychecks. I personally found this to be a hollow offer and not at all comforting.
But wait…it gets even worse. The greatest disgrace in the actions of our congress is that they had the audacity to tell the members of our armed forces that they would receive pay through midnight tonight, after which they would not be paid without a federal budget agreement. Then to add to the discomfort, they were told that there were no guarantees that their pay once a budget was passed, would be reinstated retroactively. This included those soldiers deployed in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. How dare they punish these brave men and women who are paid so little, but give so much, up to and including their lives.
And where was our President in all of this? I find it utterly distasteful that he would announce his run for reelection in 2012 while the state of our nations finances was in question. In my opinion, he should have postponed his reelection announcement and taken a much more aggressive stance towards our members of congress, holding them accountable before the American people, until they got the budget passed. My guess is that we wouldn’t have had to wait until almost 11:30PM EST to find out if our government would be open for business tomorrow had he taken the lead on this issue from the start. The bottom line is that his reelection announcement was ill timed and should have been postponed in light of the important, time-sensitive issues on the table. It was an unnecessary distraction.
I have written several brief opinions on this topic over the past few days as it is of special importance to me. I have a loved one in the armed services, and as an individual early in his military career, he can scarcely afford to go without pay. Those that suffer most are the ones like him, that are at the lowest levels of the pay scale and those soldiers with families. Do they not already sacrifice enough for our country without becoming pawns in a political game?
Hopefully, during the coming week, while negotiations are made to fund our country for the remainder of 2011, congress will realize the negative impact they have had on both those directly and indirectly affected by their inaction. In honesty though, I hold little hope of that happening given the current state of our politics..