Feb 28, 2011

Political Parties playing chicken with budget cuts, shutdown

The battles over budgets continue in state capitols like Madison, Wisconsin as well as in the United States Congress in Washington D.C., where an impasse on the budget could lead to a government shutdown if no action is taken before March 4 - which is this Saturday.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are trying to hammer out a stop-gap measure compromise that would fund the government for two weeks with deep budget cuts. If this compromise is passed with the deep cuts intact, the GOP will likely try continue them.

At stake right now are hundreds of thousands of jobs and the very stability of the American economy. If the budget cuts that many representatives seek are indeed passed, it would likely mean another recession for the American people. Coupled with rising gas prices, the economic well-being of our country may be at risk.

On the other hand, the current level of deficit spending is not sustainable. Efforts must be undertaken to generate more revenue and necessitate less spending. Cutting 700,000 jobs does not, on the surface, sound like the best option available to our elected representatives.

However, if both sides fail to compromise and a shutdown occurs, losses are inevitable. Border security will cease to exist. Immigration and customs officials will be furloughed, slowing legal entry into the US, even of American citizens.

A government shutdown will furlough hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay. This will result in millions of dollars being withdrawn from the economy. In the short term, a shutdown is bad news for the whole country.

Veterans benefits will not be paid out and VA hospitals may close their doors. Our veterans will also lose their access to welfare, transportation, health care and social security programs

If a government shutdown becomes a long-term issue, social security checks may not be mailed out and the post office itself might cease to function. Money for active military personnel and military infrastructure will not be paid out, leaving our troops hungry and in the dark.

I'm not sure if many of the supporters of federal and state budget cuts have given much thought to what their tax dollars actually pay for. Teachers, roads, bridges, school buildings, traffic lights, buses, trains, ports, harbors, border crossings, health clinics, military, security, the electrical grid, the best educational programming on the planet, water safety testing and consumer safety agencies are all funded by municipal, state and federal budgets.

If we cut funding, we will inevitably lose some of these services. We can't afford to lose them, the cost to the middle class is too great, and it is ignorant to expect private industry to pick up the slack for services that our government already provides efficiently in a not-for-profit manner. One has to question why we are cutting programs and destroying jobs that help and benefit the middle and working classes just weeks after passing tax cuts that go mostly to those making over $250,000 per year.

Reid and Boehner need to stop their partisan game of chicken and come to a deal that continues current funding levels for government programs and prevents any government shutdown.

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