Saved from the Precipice of Doom
Thank goodness for the Republicans and Democrats, who in the eleventh hour, put aside their differences and compromised to avert the catastrophe of a government shutdown. You see, the Republicans wanted to cut something like $78.5 billion from what Obama wanted to spend—itself more than $78.5 billion over the year before. The Democrats were initially willing to talk about “cutting” much less. And now, thanks to the greatest political compromise since the one in 1850—and surely one that will be as permanent in preventing a national crisis—we can all sleep at night knowing that Yosemite and the National Archives will continue to be open for business. The Washington Post reports:
The final pact on 2011 spending called for $38 billion in cuts to federal agency budgets compared with last year’s levels, about $78.5 billion below the president’s initial funding request for 2011. The White House, which initially resisted any funding reductions, started touting all the cuts it signed off on in a statement that praised reductions of $13 billion in funding for education, health and labor programs.
Oh my, oh my! $38 billion cut from Obama’s budget proposal? I guess everyone gets what they want. Obama gets to pat himself on the back for avoiding a shutdown. The Republicans get to pat themselves on the back for avoiding a shutdown, and the American people are satisfied as well.
Oh, wait. Those who love government spending are not so satisfied. You see, the cuts appear to target hot-button social programs. And those who want (at a bare minimum) for government to live within its means might also be dissatisfied. They might protest that even if we go by Obama’s projected deficits, these cuts will only shave a few percent of the amount deeper the U.S. goes into the debt hole in a year.
Yet we should forget about all this and just be glad the government didn’t shut down. For if it did, we would surely awake to a dystopian nightmare, coastal cities collapsing into the ocean, civil unrest at every corner, whole swaths of previously populated centers abandoned, disease and lawlessness rampant in every direction. Thank goodness Congress and the President got together and stopped this.
After all, we all remember when happened when the government shut down in 1995. Traffic lights didn’t work. All the prisoners were running wild in the streets. The US military was completely put out of commission, allowing the Soviet Union to spring back to life and take over half of the world. In the Great Government Shutdown of 1995, an estimated 150 million Americans died of starvation, pertussis, rubella and acute cynicism. Cats were chasing dogs, telephones and plumbing ceased to function completely, and only 75 channels were available on cable television.
Some will respond that these claims are preposterous—that in fact, not only do modern “government shutdowns” only close down a handful of functions (including such programs as tax refunds and national museums, just to annoy the American people)—but that, in the United States, such shutdowns are so superficial an example of the government truly shutting down that they actually cost more money than allowing the government to run as normal.
Sure, refuse to take such a catastrophe seriously. But as our Dear Leader says, “Americans of different beliefs came together. . . [i]n the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down. . . [to pass] a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Thanks to these courageous and selfless efforts, “when 50 eighth graders from Colorado arrive in our nation’s capital,” they might “get a chance to look up at the Washington Monument and feel the sense of pride and possibility that defines America.”
Doesn’t that make your burn with patriotic fever? Red-white-and-blue fumes are just making their way up my esophagus right now. The two parties put aside their vast disagreement—over whether to borrow another trillion or so of to be paid back by these eighth graders or whether to cut that amount down by a few percent—and they agreed to meet in the middle. Just like their parents and grandparents, these kids will have the pride to know that they live in a country where every generation has the chance to grow up with much more money owed by the government on their behalf that the generation before it.