Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breaking Down the Shutdown Showdown Downtown

 Washington, D.C. is America’s capital city.  It is also the site and power center of the world’s mightiest country militarily and economically.  No major event that occurs in any part of the world is missed or unknown by this town.  This is why most, if not all, countries are represented here through their embassies, lobby firms, or both.  

The poorest countries, the richest companies, multinationals, national business and trade associations, non-government organizations, name it – they are all represented here.  The reason is that the moves of the U.S. Government in most cases affect the lives and activities of these parties.

As I write this column/blog, the U.S. Federal Government is now on its second day of shutdown.  This is caused by the showdown between President Obama’s Democrats and the Republicans formally led by Speaker Boehner but informally by a minority group of Tea Party conservatives.

President Obama and Speaker Boehner

To make sure that government operations continue, the Democrats proposed to pass a clean CR (Continuing Resolution) funding it with the budget proposed by the Republicans.

The Republicans however, have other ideas.  They are against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – a law that provides affordable insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.  They made it an issue in the last Presidential elections.  The loss of their candidate also meant the loss of their cause.

They also brought their cause and case to the courts.  The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional and now indisputably, the law of the land.

The threat of shutting down the government became a potent bargain for the Republicans to fight against Obamacare.  So the House, which they controlled, attached in the CR, the defunding of the health care law.  Of course, the President and the Democratic controlled Senate opposed it and sent back another clean CR.

The Republican House this time changed its proposal to delay Obamacare for one year instead of “defunding” it.  Again, the Senate rejected it thus calling the Republican bluff.


As expected, the result is a government SHUTDOWN.

In a survey conducted by CNN, 68% say that a shutdown for a few days is a bad thing for the country and 80% saying it to be so if it lasts a few weeks.

In the same survey, 69% say that the Republicans in Congress are acting like spoiled children.  Only 25% say that they are acting like responsible adults.

In another survey, the U.S. Congress has an Approval rating of only 10% (the lowest in history) while it has a Disapproval rating of 87% (the highest in history).  My barber attributes the loss of confidence to the acts of the Tea Party Republicans in Congress.

Which is more important, avoid a shutdown or to make major changes to the Affordable Care Act?  Six in 10 questioned in the CNN survey say that it is more important to avoid a shutdown.
There are several Republican Senators and Congressmen who oppose the shutting down of the government.  If given the chance, they will vote to pass a clean CR (Continuing Resolution).  I am happy to know that one of them is Congressman Frank Wolf (R, Va.), our representative in Northern Virginia where I live.

My Filipino barber jokingly says that, based on his own survey of Filipino Americans and those who come to his barbershop, 100% favor a clean CR.  Of course, he is referring to what Filipinos usually call CR or comfort room.  J

Two relevant events occurred on Tuesday, October 1st.  One is the rollover of Obamacare; and two, is the start of the shutdown.  On the former, the healthcare website generated over 3 million visits causing some technical glitches or even crashes.  The good news is that there is great interest in enrollment for the uninsured or those looking for better deals, and that glitches or technical problems are easily solved technologically.  After all, this is only the first day of a 6-month period of enrollment.

I personally know several people who are affected by the shutdown.  Of course, we hear in the news other sad consequences to many American citizens and institutions.  We also know the other effects on national security, tourism, and other services.

It is about time that a clean CR is passed.  A debate, negotiation or discussion on possible amendments to Obamacare should be made a separate issue and done on another instance.

There are several websites dealing with the details and mechanism on the Affordable Care Act.  For example, the one in New York generated 10 million hits while that in California generated 5 million.  

There is really an effort to inform the American citizenry on what Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is all about.  There has been a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there.  Some even think that Obamacare is different from the Affordable Care Act.

Jimmy Kimmel of ABC conducted a survey of pedestrians in Los Angeles, California.  The question asked was, “Which do you prefer, Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?”

The pedestrians overwhelmingly HATE Obamacare and LOVE the Affordable Care Act!

Kimmel can get wiser and smarter responses in the barbershop!  In fact, my barber wants partial tax refund because he is not getting full service from the government due to shutdown.

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