Breaking “US” Bad is the story of the US government, comprised of a frustrated Senate and a struggling GOP who are diagnosed with inoperable “foot-and-mouth” disease. They turn to a life of bipartisanship, producing and selling propaganda and lies that are now affecting the livelihood of the American people, more directly, 800,000 government workers that are now sitting at home watching Maury Povich and mindless re-runs… channeling their inner Heisenberg.

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government_shutdownOn October 1st, the notion of a United States government shutdown became a reality.  In a month that should be commemorating Halloween, baseball post-season, NBA basketball, Ergonomics, the season opening of Scandal, Columbus Day, squirrel awareness, photographer appreciation, and one of my personal favorites, Positive Attitude Month (see the full list of other October observances here), instead, we are forced to accept the reality that — well let’s be frank — our country’s leaders have failed us.  And with that, 800,000 working citizens are now at home, from National Parks employees to those manning our regulatory offices like EPA and OSHA.  Government service sectors will not be operational, which will have an impact on corporate America, areas of our Social Security, governance (e-verify program) and regulatory trade (Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees our U.S. derivatives market).

Questions surrounding the effects and circumstances of this government shutdown run far and wide, and as diplomatic relations run concurrent with foreign policy, as well as our economic health, it is no illusion to think that a prolonged shutdown would usurp our status as a world leader, and in effect, ruin one of the most patriotic holidays that drops in October: ‘Murica Day

While half of us are complaining about how the government is planning to take away our freedoms, the other half are putting blind faith into anything that seems decently patriotic. Most will agree that nothing positive happens when the United States government shuts down.  And to that end, lawmakers are now pointing fingers, trying to assign blame for the first government shutdown in 17 years.

According to The Office of Management and Budget, it is estimated that two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, totaling 27 days, cost the federal government $1.4 billion, which amounts to over $2 billion in today’s dollars on costs like back pay to furloughed federal workers and uncollected fines and taxes. And, economists estimate that were a short-term shutdown to occur, it would do significant economic damage, reducing real GDP by 1.4 percentage points.  In other words, a two-month shutdown could precipitate another recession.

In other words, our government is now breaking US bad

So how did this happen? Easy. In a word: bipartisanship.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President and was re-elected in 2012.  A million more people voted for Democrats than Republicans for the House in 2012… hence, America wanted a Democrat majority. Instead we have a divided government; on one side, Senate Democrats that have tirelessly worked to negotiate a budget with the House. On the other side, a contentious House Republican has resorted to implementing stall tactics over resolutions, dogmatism over compromise, and highbrow elitism over democracy — in opening up a fresh bottle of HATERADE!

White-House-Down

And how do haters hate?

A 21-hour marathon filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) did a fine job of provoking this government shutdown (read the marathon transcript here).  While the issue of Obamacare was addressed — in a wicked twist of befuddlement — Cruz also waxxed un-poetically on topics ranging from Ashton Kutcher to green eggs and ham to White Castles to Benihana’s to Denny’s… but no tea?  The twist of irony that complicated the pathology of his political unhealthy diet occured in the opening minutes of his speech, as Cruz stated that:

…there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people. They are not listening to the concerns of their constituents, they are not listening to the jobs lost or the people forced into part-time work, to the people losing their health insurance, to the people who are struggling…

So let’s just turn our back on 800,000 of your employees by forcing a government shutdown?

Is Boehner and GOP leaders on a mission to defund our government? Are we forgetting that salvaging our debt ceiling is necessary to avoid a constitutional crisis and potentially a financial crisis as well?

As the GOP manifests to remove wasteful spending and look for wasteful programs that don’t work, how does “give-and-take” politics progress this mission? And with growing dissension over this political hot potato, is there a viable exit strategy that allows the GOP House to save face? I stand to say no? Why?

The Tea Party adherents are just as culpable – preventing a bill going to the House floor for a favorable majority vote by the combined vote of sane democrats and republicans. The Tea Party is shutting down the government in the absence of traditional negotiation, a tactic that is so anti-government, that they can no longer be considered “Republican”.

Accordingly, it seems to me Tea Party members are entitled to their own caucus. In fact, Boehner should kick them out of his “Republican” caucus and thereby enable them to form their own Tea Party caucus which can oppose bills on the floor at will but not to the extent they can shut down our government, hence debunking pontification politics.

And the twisted irony? The Affordable Health Care Program will not be affected.

The most recent government shutdowns have occurred during our last two Democrat sitting Presidents (Clinton, and now Obama), Democratic leaders have been cautious about another occurrence for some time, augmenting public awareness campaigns to ensure that citizens aren’t disillusioned by the lack of partisanship. In 2011, Representative Rush Holt stated that:

I am working to keep the government open. Of course, we always should be looking to remove wasteful spending and programs that don’t work. I have supported and will continue to support thoughtful budget cuts that reduce the deficit by eliminating unnecessary spending and costly tax giveaways to industries reaping enormous profits. We must not forget, though, to preserve the safety-net programs necessary for a humane society and the investments necessary for an innovative and prosperous economy.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) has a list of other possible effects of a shutdown. Funds to help states administer unemployment benefits could get disrupted, IRS tax-refund processing for certain returns would be suspended, farm loans and payments would stop, and Small Business Administration approval of business loan guarantees and direct loans would likely cease.

These critical services would not cease:

  • Social Security checks for seniors, people with disabilities and survivors would still go out. But new Social Security applications will likely not be processed during any shutdown, as during in the previous shutdowns.
  • Troops would continue to serve, though their pay could be put on hold.
  • Critical homeland security functions such as border security would continue.
  • The Postal Service, which is self-funded, will continue to operate.
  • The FAA would keep the air traffic control system open and safe.

However, some services would likely be affected:

  • Unemployment benefits: The federal funds that help states pay the costs of their unemployment programs could be affected depending on the length of the shutdown.
  • Veterans’ services: While VA hospitals will remain open, veterans’ benefits could be delayed or reduced, as was the case during the last shutdown.
  • National parks: National parks and the National Wildlife Refuge Systems would be among the first places to close if the government shuts down.
  • Passports: Passport and visa applications will not be processed. In the 1996 shutdown, over 200,000 passport applications and 30,000 daily visa applications went unprocessed.
  • IRS processing of tax refunds for some returns would be suspended.
  • FHA new home loan guarantees may cease.
  • SBA approval of applications for business loan guarantees and direct loans to small businesses would likely cease, impacting the engines of our economy and potentially slowing the economic recovery.
  • Farm loans and farm payments would cease.
  • Museums: National museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, would close in the event of a government shutdown.
  • Access to the U.S. Capitol: Guide and staff-led tours of the Capitol will be canceled. The House Gallery will remain open.

Are you mad yet? If not, just wait til corporate ‘Murica closes in observance.

And.. the BBC points out: “Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers’ wages.”

Re: Memo Directing Agencies To Shut Down