Phony baloney

Dec 6, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

Is it still hard to believe that Congress has dillied, dallied and dinked around again to the point thaton Fridaythe U.S. government faces another shutdown because there is no spending plan in place?

Maybe for the rest of us, but not for the senators and representatives. In fact, few of them even seem concerned about it.

That's a switch. In 2013, when Congress couldn't agree on a continuing agreement to keep funding the government, there was 16-day shutdown that closed the doors to thousands of government facilities, halted most government operations, andput about 850,000 people out of work.Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks both closed among the casualties, as you might recall. Those were the glamour shutdowns. The harder impact was elsewhere, including Fremont County, where the U.S Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and numerous other federal agencies have offices and staff locally, providing basic services and performing essential duties. Five years ago when this happened, millions of people who needed routine government service couldn't get it, and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans with ordinary jobs were idled.

And none of it was their fault. It was the fault of the people they elected.

A check of the headlines back then showed the government shutdown controversy dominating the news. Why was this happening? How could it have been avoided? What services were lost? Who was suffering in the shutdown? How long would it last? And, yes, whose fault was it?

These days the first four questions are all but ignored. It's all about finding someone to blame.

While we're at it, a far less-important gripe is about how these arguments have the additional side-effect of mainstreaming what has become one of the most tiresome and overused terms in the English language, namely, "kick(ing) the can down the road."

Just for fun, if you follow news reports this week on the pending shutdown, count how many times you hear someone or other say the solutions being offered for the standoff "do nothing more than kick the can down the road," or, "all we are doing is kicking the can down the road."

This time around, the finger-pointing is harder to do. Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and the president is a Republican, so the partisan blame game can't really be played.

In that case, say our federal leaders, we'll simply change the tune and say that the shutdown isn't really important.The ongoing flash flood of unpredictable and unprecedented news from the White House makes that easier to do. It helps divert attention from Congress's toe-stubbing.

With a bit more than 48 hours to go before the shutdown, the closest thing there is to a plan is to create a new funding deadline out of thin air.Well, that's one way to do it - creating a crisis, then solving it without solving it, then creating another one. All in all, a fine performance from the people who are supposed to be the best we've got.

It's tempting to call the whole thing a plate of phony baloney anyway, because in the past we've learned that the reps and senators can change the rules any time they want. If that's going to be the case, then why was such a big deal made of this in the past? Easy - because this is really more about politics, not finances. And if you can't win the first part, then the second one doesn't really matter.

In case anyone in Washington wonders why Congress is held in such poor regard, it's because of junk like this.

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