Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
For the seventeenth time since 1977, the United States federal government is experiencing a partial shutdown. But it isn’t the first time Republicans and Democrats are at odds to decide who is at fault.
I’ll start with the facts: This is the first government shutdown since a 21-day shutdown during the Clinton administration spanning between 1995 and 1996. Twelve of the past seventeen shutdowns were during a time when at least one chamber of Congress was of the opposing party of the president. The other five shutdowns occurred during the Carter administration, when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and the presidency.
The current shutdown is filled with questions and unfulfilled answers as the “blame game” continues to be played between the Republicans and the Democrats. With President Barack Obama’s out-of-control spending and another taxpayer-funded “entitlement” in the form of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) about to be unveiled in full, Republicans passed a bill through the House using the negative public opinion of Obamacare as leverage. They offered a budget bill that delayed Obamacare’s rollout by one year while raising the debt ceiling. Supporting the president, Democrats soundly rejected the offer in the Senate, and with a stall in negotiations, the United States sunk into a government shutdown.
Was it wise for Republicans to try to defund Obamacare this early? Probably not. Obama vowed multiple times he would veto any bill that defunded his signature healthcare act, even if the House and Senate negotiated a deal. And with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s relationship in Congress, a negotiation surely wasn’t going to be made.
Past the constant bantering back and forth lays the false premise of the liberal side of the argument. By calling out Republicans as being “on a jihad” against Obamacare and blaming the entire shutdown on John Boehner and Ted Cruz, Democrats hide the truth behind the issue.
No, Obamacare would not be the first major program to be defunded. While many Democrats resort to calling it “the law of the land,” the reality is that the people who make and change laws are none other than the United States congressmen. When laws become outdated or unpopular, it is Congress’ job to repeal or amend them.
In the 1960s, Congress approved funding “police action” against the rise of communism with only two votes against it. After nearly 60,000 casualties and the “police action” escalating into the Vietnam War, Congress quickly defunded the war. Although Obamacare is a far cry from Vietnam, the same model for defunding can be used in the event of an extremely unpopular result after implementation.
No, the Affordable Care Act is not popular with Americans. The latest Gallup Poll reported 49 percent of Americans disapprove of the law with only 41 percent approval, only 24 percent of Americans say it will improve their healthcare situation, and an overwhelming 38 percent say Obamacare will make it worse. By turning a shoulder to the opinion of Americans, Obama is ignoring a simple principle of democracy: He works for the people and must respect the interests of the American people.
And no, Obamacare will not help businesses — corporate or local. Delta Airlines estimated the new healthcare bill will cost them $100 million each year and they’ll need to cut employees’ hours below 30 per week to avoid paying them benefits. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Universal healthcare’s effect on the economy will be seen across the board and far more severe than a government shutdown. In fact, during the last government shutdown, the S&P 500 fell 3.7 percent before bouncing back to see a 10.5 percent gain the next month after a budget deal was reached. With the implementation of Obamacare comes increased transportation prices, leading to increased food prices and a higher demand on the agricultural sector to try to produce more crops to offset the higher costs.
Many conservatives see the shutdown as less of an Obamacare issue and more of a spending issue. The Democrats’ unwillingness to put forward a balanced budget is alarming. What’s even more alarming is where the funds of the shutdown have been allocated. Closing national parks and barring the public from visiting veterans’ war memorials certainly can’t be the most important things we cut. And maybe, just maybe, by furloughing “less important” government positions during the shutdown, the current administration will reduce the size of our government in an attempt to cut spending.
To end my column, I’ll leave you with a quote from Obama that reflects his incredible ability to deflect blame on others for his administration’s problems: “Of all the responsibilities the constitution endows to Congress, two should be fairly simple: pass a budget and pay America’s bills.”
Bold words from the man whose last budget proposal was two months late and left a $744 billion deficit. Now that Obamacare has been implemented, Republicans can focus on allowing the debt ceiling to be raised in exchange for spending cuts. Once a deal is reached and the shutdown is over, then Republicans can focus on forcing Americans to face the facts and begin to defund Obamacare.
Although the shutdown and Obamacare may not directly affect many of us here at Cal Poly, we must pay attention to this pivotal moment in American history, as it could change the course of the country for generations to come.