Budget Showdown 2011: Obama, Republicans and Democrats Concerned with Ideological Stances or National Interests?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

The President delivers a statement on budget

President Obama delivers a statement on the ongoing budget talks., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/7/11

Why is President Obama playing hardball, taking a gamble where there will be losses all around, if when the clock strikes midnight today and no budget or extension deal are in place to keep the government operating?

A government shutdown should be averted at all reasonable costs. If a final budget cannot be decided today, the Senate needs to pass the emergency week extension, and the insurance that the military will be paid even if a shutdown will happen. So much progress has been made this week in nearing to a deal for the budget for rest of the fiscal year; the extra week could make all the difference.

President Obama should not be stiff and insist on a veto, or refuse the spending cuts that are sticklers and preventing a budget agreement. Vetoing any measure that would keep the government open will in the long run look bad for the Democrats and President Obama. The side that did the most to prevent the shutdown will be the side that public will look most favorably at come election time.

Besides political capital, it is not a time for the government to be shut down, with the revolutions, turmoil and unrest in the Mideast, the continuing tragedy in Japan and with the Canadian government non-confidence vote, campaign and election, the United States needs to be the stable world presence, a government shutdown diverts from this.

Additionally the economy and country does not need to go through any more turmoil and expenses that might upset the delicate economic recovery. Only last week official numbers were released indicating a decrease in unemployment. With a shutdown the estimated numbers now indicate that 800,000 of 2 million civil servants will be placed on furlough. In a short period the monetary costs of a shutdown will pile up and be evident, with Washington, DC being the hardest hit.

The issue at this very moment preventing an eleventh hour budget agreement is 300 million in funding to Planned Parenthood; of all allocations, there should be a compromise concerning this spending issue. However, the divisions are strictly ideological. Republicans consciously do not see Planned Parenthood as an essential government spending. While Democrats and the President refuse to compromise either on the issue, with President Obama explicitly refusing any cuts to their funding.

Both sides see it as more important than keeping the government open, more essential than the harm to the economy caused by shutdown, the civil servant workers and military troops that will not be paid, the millions of dollars that will be lost, and the devastating economic affect should there be a protracted shutdown.

If the Democrats are insisting that the Republicans are being petty on the spending issues they are concerned about, then maybe they should heed their own advice, and agree on the cuts for the country’s greater good. Either way both parties in Congress and President Obama should consider what is best for the majority of American citizens and the country as a whole above any ideological stands and symbols.

%d bloggers like this: