Moving past unhealthy politics
Just this past Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fully fund the government so Social Security recipients, veterans, military, and schools would all receive budgeted funding for the upcoming year, but it did not include funding for Obamacare.
As part of the separate, but equal, legislative branch of government, the House of Representatives, is responsible for setting federal budgets. This means they have the authority to fund or not fund programs based on whether or not they think it is in the best interest of their constituents.
By voting to fund the government, but not Obamacare, representatives believe that the majority of their constituents are against Obamacare — despite it being the law of the land. And this belief is consistent with national polling data which shows that the majority of Americans are not in favor of the federally-funded healthcare program.
In previous articles, I have even made my case for not supporting Obamacare. I reasoned that large corporations are getting waivers, government workers are getting stipends, but average working Americans are stuck with skyrocketing healthcare cost, for many of the promises of making healthcare affordable have been anything but that over the last three years.
Despite the fallacies of Obamacare, however, and its disapproval by Americans, the vote to defund Obamacare — by members of the House of Representatives — seem to be maligned in the public square.
Once again, members of the House of Representatives — a majority of whom are Republicans — are being labeled as extremists and obstructionists.
But, didn’t they act constitutionally, and took a position that reflected the heartfelt sentiment of the majority of the American people? Or, are representatives supposed to vote against their constituents because the opposition party has control of the Senate and the presidency?
In other words, are their votes a futile effort that will only result in them being blamed for a government shutdown?
I honestly do not understand the latter concern. I thought the whole point of divided government, or, separate but equal branches of government, was to provide a system of checks and balances, allowing the voices of the American people to truly be heard.
It seems like common sense, or the American way, to me, that when there is a point of disagreement in the public square, all parties should be able to present their case in a logical manner without being personally slandered, and malicious judgments be made of their hearts and intents.
Further, elected officials should be able to identify points of commonality, and move forward with solutions that address the needs of the American people.
Alas, in this age, such a notion seems impossible, for most elected officials seem to be more worried about their personal and party interests, rather than those of the country.
Indeed, most pundits predict that the House approved CR will go to the Senate — which will pass its own CR, including the funding of Obamacare. Then, if the House holds to its original vote, rejecting the Senate’s resolution, there will be a stalemate in government.
If no compromise is reached, a budget will not be passed by the “dreaded” Oct. 1 deadline, and an effective “shutdown of government” will ensue.
Technically, all financial obligations of the federal government — including Social Security payments, funding of military engagements, and payments to our national debt — could continue, but much of what we would consider discretionary spending may not continue. This would be at the discretion of the president.
This understanding, therefore, begs the question, who would really be shutting down government?
As I see it, the House is doing its duty and is representing the sentiments of working Americans who are being hammered by this law.
Yet, the House is being chided because it is not rubber-stamping (once again) the unpopular demands of the administration.
It is truly disappointing that, the president, rather than humbly going before the American people and acknowledging that [because of] his own actions of delaying various aspects of the law, the “Affordable Care Act” is simply not ready for implementation.
The president seems unwilling to bring both sides of Congress together to find points of agreement and compromise. Once again, fingers are being pointed at congressional Republicans, who are conveniently blamed and accused of being extortionist and shutting down government, because they are taking a constitutional stance.
By his actions, however, and those of his own administration, couldn’t the president also be accused of the very same thing?
More and more I feel the air of politics becoming toxic and divisive. It seems like you can’t simply disagree with the administration — and voice alternative solutions — without having your motives and character impugned.
Whatever happened to the man who said that we are not red states or blue states, but the United States of America? Whatever happened to listening to the will of the people and working towards finding common ground?
At this juncture in the healthcare debate, and in our nation’s history, the president has an opportunity to truly hear America’s working class and actively lead Congress towards identifying a compromise.
The president has a wonderful opportunity to move us past the point of unhealthy politics and show that we really can be the “united” states of America.”
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]