To the Readers' Forum:
As I write, there is a real chance of a full government shutdown if no federal spending legislation is enacted by March 4, or if the federal debt ceiling is not raised by the end of March. A coalition of TEA Party and mainstream Republican House members have passed a final 2011 bill full of spending cuts that Democratic Senate leaders are not embracing and President Obama has pledged to veto as is.
The last time a similar divergence over federal budget priorities existed was in 1996 and the Republicans were leading the charge then as well. It was a stupid move. In words similar to those recently spoken by Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the mantra of the current Republicans is, whatever the fallout from a government shutdown, "then so be it."
Well, it's clear that a government shutdown will reduce federal spending, but I don't believe the voters who sent new members to the Congress were sold on a platform that included a shutdown and the harm it will inflict on our society. I thought that this new breed of reformers was sent to work out a plan for job creation. How will a government shutdown create a single job? The opposite will occur when funding for all federal contractor jobs, job-training programs and various forms of research dries up - talk about a job-killing agenda!
How will a shutdown, which will dry up federally funded unemployment benefits as well as other temporary income-support services, assist those looking for work? How will the few million federal employees support their families, and, by extension, the businesses in their communities without a paycheck? How will a shutdown help millions of our less fortunate citizens, who rely on supported employment, supported housing, utility and health services, maintain their frail existence?
The careless action of the House Republicans that threatens a government shutdown is simply more stupid political theatre. My guess is that those who are running the show are in the top 2 percent income bracket of the population; the ones who just benefited most from the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. I wonder what kind of sadistic pleasure they derive from their greed.
Paul L. Demler