I’m only 20 years old, so most of my memories are of the post 9/11, highly partisan world. I’m used to every issue being divided mostly on party lines and every fight being solved only after everyone has acted like a petulant child that is having their nails pulled out. What I am not used to is seeing a Congress that, even after the nail pulling, cannot seem to come to an agreement. Every year that I have paid attention to politics, it has only been at the last minute that a deal has come around, and the last few years only a temporary deal at that, but this year you can not even do that much for us. This year, you have failed at one of your most basic duties.
The duty of which I speak is the one to pass a budget that includes budget cuts and revenue increases so that we can continue to pay our bills and work like any country should. There should not be hostages and “pork” like the ending, delaying of, or any change to, Obamacare. If the funding for it was part of the budget in general, then I would be a little more understanding towards wanting to look at it, at least for a more long-term budget, but as it stands what you are doing is unacceptable. I am not saying that Obamacare is perfect and does not need any work done, because that would be a lie. Any new policy, law, or program needs adjustments to make it better and more functional, and Obamacare is certainly not the exception, but deciding that because you don’t have the votes to get rid of it that you will simply hold the American people and the budget hostage is simply unacceptable.
My husband is not a federal employee, nor is he any longer part of the military. He works for a company that works for NASA on a contract. He, however, is just as affected by this as any federal employee is. He is being told that there will be no work for him and that as long as there is a shutdown, he will not have a job. To top it all off, because he is in the private sector, he is banned by his employment contract from working in the same “general field” that he is working for this company in, so even if there was an open job, he could not take it. Living in Northern Virginia, I can only assume that there are at least a thousand other people within five miles of us in the same situation: being told that you won’t have work or pay for an unspecified period of time.
Even our military friends are facing this very real possibility. They serve the country and have signed a blank check payable up to the amount of their lives, and many face deployment or already deployed, yet they are facing also having to worry about how to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Yes, there is a bill that has gone through the House and is in the hands of the Senate that would make sure the military still got paid, but let us be honest. This is not because you care oh so much about the troops. It is because you depend on them for getting into office and because you know that if the military was forced to work unpaid for an extended period of time, they would march on Washington and lock you all in a room until you came out with a real budget that actually lasts an entire year and properly balances the budget, with both budget cuts and revenue increases. To be perfectly honest, this very thing is what makes me feel that the Senate should reject the bill funding the military. Even if they get paid the lower ranks will grumble, if only because most of them depend on a second income from a spouse, but the higher ranking officers will only speak up if everyone is being denied pay.
Many of us not receiving a paycheck will find a way to pay bills, at least for a while, but each week of pay we miss is more likely to go towards covering the basics and less likely to go towards a big holiday season. You say that defunding Obamacare is just too important to Americans and to Small businesses, but I ask you this: are the small businesses, or even the large ones that you get so much of your money from, going to accept another lagging holiday season? Thanksgiving to New Years is where a lot of businesses make a good percentage of their income. This is the time of the year that even the poorest families find a little extra to spend, and most middle class families find a few thousand to spend. If you make people miss a week or more of pay, they are going to have less to put into the economy at this time. This means more unemployment, small businesses collapsing, and large businesses getting upset at unpleasant revenue projections. That is not even beginning to touch on how our debtors will feel when our economy starts going downhill again.
So I ask you this Congress: will you stay working until this dilemma is solved and we are once again a functioning country, or will you fail the American people? Obamacare needs some work, but it needs to wait until we are paying our bills and paying our people. Please pass a clean budget and do what you were voted in to do. We did not vote you in simply to play partisan games. We voted you in to take care of the needs of the people, and our first need is to have an operational government.
A Concerned Citizen