Many have laid blame for the recently-ended government “shutdown” (a misnomer, since 83 percent of the government continued to function) at the feet of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his Utah colleague, Senator Mike Lee, both Republicans.
It’s worth remembering that House Republicans passed several measures to fund the government (except for Obamacare), all of which were killed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As many have pointed out, politically and practically speaking, there was little point in Obamacare opponents using a defunding threat to try to derail it.
Even if Reid had allowed a vote, and if enough Senate supporters of the law could have been persuaded to change their minds, President Obama would never have signed such a measure. But there’s more to life than politics. In fact, at one time, life and politics were completely separate.
Many generations ago, it was rare for people to make a career out of politics. Rather, they temporarily laid aside other pursuits, such as farming, to serve for a few years, and returned to private life once that service was completed.
Today, it’s rare for anyone in politics to not make a career out of them. True, neither Cruz nor Lee may be the second coming of Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith in the movie Mister Smith Goes to Washington. But there’s something to be said for doing something simply because one believes it is right, whatever the consequences.
Whether one agrees that this is true of Cruz and Lee, there’s something to be said for someone who’s more concerned about the next generation than about the next election. Washington has more than enough people who are dedicated to preserving the status quo, and to “going along to get along.”
The city seems to be full of people willing to fall for everything, particularly when it comes to fiscal and budgetary policy. Conversely, there seems to be a severe shortage of people willing to stand for anything, especially when the winds of public opinion blow stiffly in the opposite direction.
However, judging from the extended standing ovation he received recently in a meeting with a group of his constituents, Cruz is far from alone in his opposition to Obamacare in particular or to government largesse in general.
As freshman senators, Cruz and Lee obviously don’t know their place in modern Washington. No wonder so many people who go to Washington today stay there until they retire. Today, it takes at least one term in office to earn the right even to speak, much less to do anything significant in the way of championing (or opposing) legislation.
Before Obamacare’s passage, members of Congress faced loud (and arguably widespread) opposition to it during town hall meetings. Still, the Senate voted (arguably arbitrarily and prematurely) to end debate on it despite such opposition.
Although (1) a simple majority usually is all that is necessary to repeal taxes, and (2) the Supreme Court called Obamacare’s assessment for foregoing insurance a tax rather than a penalty, Reid quietly inserted a provision in the law requiring a 60-vote majority to repeal it.
If Obamacare really is as great as its proponents say it is, one wonders what they’re so afraid of.
Ken K. Gourdin, Tooele, is a certified paralegal.