After Fourteen Days of pondering this mess, what comes back to me time and again is not just that Congress has shut down business, and killed the paychecks of tens of thousands of employees, and hurt families as well as local economies, and put the kibosh on scientific research, and turned its collective back on people who need help the most, and even gotten the head of the IMF to say that if we don’t do something right now, the world could slide into another recession.* At least I can wrap my head around that part of this mess because I can see the damage the shutdown is causing. Just this weekend a friend told me of a conversation he had with a disgruntled TSA agent at an airport; this security employee was supposed to have received a paycheck. And I shake my head in deep sadness and shame when I read that someone can’t start a cancer trial right now. This whole mess is one long nightmare and gets worse with every ticking second.
What comes to me is that every time I hear a Congress member** interviewed on the news, I get this unnerving fleeting twinge of something in my gut. I think it’s just that I can’t expect the news to get worse, and yet it does, but I know deep down that’s not it. What unsettles me is that I’m fed up with the attitudes of our congressional members.
Every time I hear somebody say something like, “I don’t know how much we can do,” or “It’s all about the other side,” or “We’ll see what happens,” or, “I need them to…,” or even something like, “I think we can get around to something by Thursday,” I cringe. These people, these men and women elected to Congress, are the only people who can do something about this mess. If they were in school, the teachers would be sending emails home and making phone calls because of destructive, non-caring attitudes. I would never hire a person who can’t put his or her best foot forward and articulate an outcome and then work to achieve it, in a positive fashion. No professor or high school teacher would be satisfied with the work of the current 113th Congress if the job at hand were to be graded as a class group project. They’d fail miserably.
When I hear these sound bites, it’s like people have all the time in the world and it doesn’t matter if congressional members negotiate and solve the issue today or tomorrow or ever. Heck, Congress is getting paid; that’s the law. (There’s an online petition circulating which I have signed; it demands that congress members be stricken of their pay during the shutdown. It’s a great show of force for the public and I urge you to sign it, but know that congressional salaries will remain.)
What also gets to me is that congressional members (as a body, not necessarily individually) not only feel like they are under no critical deadline, they just don’t care, again, as a body, and that is what’s causing most of my angst.
Well I care. And I think the public should start sending invoices to Congress for lost wages and for lost business and for all the economic resources lost to citizens because of this stupid business. Yes, my language is getting stronger. I still caution my readers to maintain respect to the institution of the United States and to use verbiage that gets to the point without dropping to the level of disrespect. As I always say, somebody has to take the high road here and be a role model to kids. It might as well be us.
* I watched NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday, October 13, 2013. Here’s what the Washington Post wrote:
“IMF Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a failure by the United States to make scheduled payments to investors “would mean massive disruption the world over. And we would be at risk of tipping yet again into a recession.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-leaders-begin-to-negotiate-as-other-efforts-to-end-impasse-crumble/2013/10/13/498f4202-341a-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html?tid=pm_politics_pop
** (I refuse to call Congress members “leaders” or “officials” right now.)
October 14, 2013