Dear Federal Government: The Shutdown Isn’t Rocket Science

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Temper Tantrum girlDear Federal Government,

You’re shut down, default on the nation’s debt is impending, and all we hear from both sides of the aisle is rhetoric that any sixth-grader would recognize as a game of “who blinks first” or what street-racers call “chicken.” Neither game produces any real winners and usually results in further argument and tragedy.

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Perhaps if someone outside the Beltway proposed a solution, both parties could turn their vengeance toward that person — and find common ground toward a solution. Police officers recognize this dynamic when they’re called to break up domestic violence disputes. Sometimes both parties turn on the officer violently, but at least the parties make up, at least temporarily.

The President wants a continuing resolution to keep the government open at current levels. He (and the financial markets) also need Congress to lift the debt ceiling. A sufficient number of Republicans want, in exchange, a year delay on the implementation of Obamacare. One would think in this dynamic there could be compromise, but lines seem drawn in the dirt. Turn on the messenger, both of you, but give the following some thought.

Obamacare is off to a slow start, its website is a disaster and individual horror stories are coming to everyone’s attention — like 62-year-old men and women seeing whopping premium increases because of the mandate to buy maternity care. In a different era, minor tax-code problems would be fixed by a technical corrections or riders to other bills that would pass unanimously in both houses of Congress. Those days are gone. The Republicans know they should pass a continuing resolution and increase the debt limit so the government can operate at full strength and the financial markets can return to normal, but they have boxed themselves in. Still, why not:

1) Pass a continuing resolution funding the government until Oct. 1, 2014.
2) Pass a trillion-dollar raise in the debt limit.
3) Agree to remove, for one year, the penalty provision levied on individuals who don’t buy health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. The Obama administration has already given corporations and unions a year reprieve on the penalty provisions. Why not extend the same reprieve to individuals?

This will allow Obamacare additional time to fix its website, give individuals time to find alternatives to whopping premium increases, and to propose fixes to bugs in the system. I’d suggest both sides agree to remain open to tweaks and fixes as they arise, but that may be going too far for the “Obamacare or bust” crowd. Still, these measures would allow those millions of us who have been notified that our health insurance as we had it is unavailable or so expensive that we can’t afford it to shop the “exchanges” to find coverage.

Go ahead, kill the messenger. But maybe, just maybe, think about it while you’re all plotting my demise.

One last suggestion. President Obama, please order a media blackout in D.C for a week. It might just get the votes you will need off the TV and off the radio and get all of the rest of us back to work.

Sincerely,

Webster Hubbell