HOLMBERG: Government shutdown? Again? Really?
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Two words for those of you who have bought into the hype and fear surrounding the government shutdown:
Remember that, the one-two punch of New Year’s tax increases and budget cuts – the certain doom and destruction?
Remember how we came to the fiscal cliff and ran right off of it?
For a day or two there, the nation looked like Wile E. Coyote after he runs off the cliff and kind of floats there with that uh-oh look on his face.
And then – uh – Congress kind of voted to delay and defuse and compromise a wee bit and then we all smoked a post-political-orgasm cigarette and waited for the next panic.
Well, here it is.
The Republican-controlled House refuses to fund Obamacare, saying the American people don’t want it.
The President says he won’t blink on his signature health care plan. “That won’t happen.”
He blames the evil empire – “the Tea Party” – this generation’s John Birch Society.
The Democrat-controlled Senate is on his side.
But the President has already given employers a year’s grace to get ready for his signature plan. (He also gave Congress a subsidy to pay for their extra expenses under the Affordable Care Act.)
So what’s going to happen?
In a day, maybe two, it will be over.
My guess is they’ll do what they normally do when faced with tough, politically divisive problems:
The easiest solution would be to delay the activation of the Affordable Care Act for citizens for another year, just like the President did for employers.
Yes, this would mean the President would “lose” this titanic bluffing match.
But polls show the majority of Americans are either confused or worried or afraid of Obamacare, or, if you prefer, the Affordable Care Act.
Given how divided the nation is about it, is it really surprising or wrong that Congress can’t agree?
Do you really know what you’re supposed to do starting this week? Do you know how it will work, how it will touch your pocketbook and your medical chart?
I stopped and asked several passersby in downtown Richmond about their understanding of it. Only one I spoke with could give an explanation of the rough mechanics of the plan.
The complexities and reach of the Affordable Care Act has health care experts finding unintended consequences, which is how employers got the year break.
Why not give it a year of refining and seasoning and explaining before WE have to buy into it?
But even if their compromise and delay isn’t that, there will be solution by midweek. Bet on it.
And can I be really crass for a moment?
If the government does shut down for a few days and many federal employees have to miss work, is it too cruel to say “welcome to the modern world”?
So many people have lost their jobs in this economy. So many have no retirement plans or health insurance. So many people would love to have the job security, the pay, the bennies, that federal employees typically enjoy year after year.
So as you watch this round of shutdown hype, try to remember that it’s just high-stakes gamblers playing with our money – folks who don’t have the courage to stay in the game.
They’ll fold and divide the pot, knowing how quickly we’ll forget this hand – just like the last one – while we wait for the next one to be dealt.