Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Government Shutdown May Loom For Lack Of Compromise

Government Shutdown May Loom For Lack Of Compromise

By George E. Hardin
Published on 11/11/2010
Now that the Republican majority has the power in the House of Representatives—the right has the might—and Senator Mitch McConnell has said the main GOP goal is to make sure President Barack Obama is not reelected, political fireworks are almost a certainty in the days ahead. Never mind that President Obama has offered from the beginning to work with the Republicans and acknowledged that the economy and joblessness need more attention.

The opposition party is willing to disregard pressing issues, such as the deaths of our armed forces men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is ready to bypass major domestic and foreign problems in an effort to defeat the nation’s leader in 2012.

It has been said that the difference between a politician and a statesman is the politician is mainly concerned about the next election, while the statesman is mainly concerned about the next generation. McConnell and others with similar views have already carved their niche.

Along with defeating Obama, the Republicans want to repeal the health care legislation although it provides coverage to about 30 million people who did not have it before. In pledging a hard-line stance on this issue, the GOP and the Tea Party may be moving toward the kind of partial government shutdown that took place in 1995 when the budget bill did not pass at the end of the fiscal year and no funds were appropriated. Ultimately it worked against the Republicans and Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House. Many in the House were holding out for cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, education and environmental funding. The aim was to trim the budget regardless of consequences.

It resulted in a tug-or-war between Gingrich, who led the Republicans, and President Bill Clinton.

Tom DeLay, former House Majority Leader, said in his book “No Retreat: No Surrender” that “He (Gingrich) told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One…  . What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child.” According to polls, Gingrich was viewed as egotistical, his political stature was damaged, and the GOP’s image took a beating. Clinton said he arranged the seating so Gingrich would be closer to his pickup car when he got off the plane.

Noting how Obama has been criticized, Walter Mondale, vice president under Jimmy Carter, recently told a reporter that when things go bad “people think the president is the only one who can fix their problems. And if he doesn’t produce solutions, I’m telling you – when a person loses a job, or can’t feed his family, or can’t keep his house, he is no longer rational. They become angry and strike out – and that’s what we have now. If you’re the president, they say, ‘Do Something!’”

Mondale believes Obama began his presidency with some false presumptions. “One was the idea that we were in a post-partisan era.” And he said Obama is “doing a good job” but “the public’s expectations are so outsized.”

Robert Reich, who was labor secretary in the Clinton administration, said of the current political climate, “The public is in no mood for a government shutdown. They want their elected representatives to be able to work together effectively.”

Republicans have said in essence that compromise is capitulation. However, what you lose in compromise you gain in collaboration. If the results benefit the people and move the nation forward, the setbacks of compromise are more than offset by the gains of collaboration.

George E. Hardin worked as a photographer, reporter and editor, and in public relations during a long career before he retired. His column appears every other week on W.E. A.L.L. B.E.

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