Tuesday, September 8, 2015

No Lesson Learned

School is back in session and so is the United States Congress.

Congress' first order of business…pass a funding bill to keep the government running beyond the fast approaching “we ain’t got no money” deadline on September 30.
Congress has known about this deadline for several months. They know that under the terms of the Constitution it is their responsibility to authorize funding for the government. But like most students they see no reason to work on an assignment until the eleventh hour.

Reasonable people, knowing full well the obstacles that will have to be overcome to reach a funding compromise, would have been working on this assignment since the last continuing resolution was passed a year ago. But these are not reasonable people. So here we sit, less than 30 days out, without even a hint of a substantive solution.

Oh, there have been a plethora of partisan funding proposals; none of which have a prayer of reaching the president’s desk. Republicans once again want to slash funding for entitlements and social safety net programs. Democrats want to raise taxes on the rich. Same old same old.

Republicans have come up with a bit of a new wrinkle this year. They want any continuing resolution to exclude all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Republicans are convinced that Planned Parenthood uses the federal appropriations it receives to pay for abortion services. The fact that Planned Parenthood is prohibited by law from using any of the federal funds it receives for abortion services is of no consequence to the right. They want to defund Planned Parenthood…period. They have vowed to shut down the government if Democrats don’t agree to go along for the ride.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a really bad idea. Not only is Planned Parenthood the largest provider of abortion services in the country it is also the nation’s largest provider of contraceptives, cancer screenings, HIV screenings and consultation services. Defund Planned Parenthood and the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions will rise. Defund Planned Parenthood and you will see a spike in the number and severity in cases of cancer and HIV.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a dumb move. Shutting down the government for any reason is insane. The last time Republicans shut down the government 800,000 federal government workers were furloughed, the GDP took a $25 billion dollar hit and Moody’s handed the US government its first credit rating downgrade in history. So, yes, let’s do that again!

The federal government will run out of money in 21 days. There is absolutely no chance of meeting that deadline with a comprehensive budget. There simply isn’t enough time. So at some point congress will cobble together another short term continuing resolution that won’t address the country’s needs. What it will do is kick the can back down the road once more.

Our second rate infrastructure will continue to deteriorate. Our education system will continue to lag behind the rest of the modernized world. Our debt and deficits will continue to grow.

Congress is back in session. No lesson learned here.

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