After sixteen days of a partial U.S. Government shutdown and worries that the country may default on its debt obligations, Congress finally came up with a deal last week. But the only thing this deal has done, however, is kick the can down the road.
The debt deal, negotiated by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Harry Reid (D-NV), was passed easily in the Senate, but only passed the House after a few Republicans joined a largely Democratic majority. The deal funds the government at current spending levels through Jan. 15. The deal also raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. This amounts to the country dealing with one of these situations again, and sooner than we would like.
Congress has not solved this crisis, just pushed it off until after the New Year. They have done nothing to address our massive debt and the issues with our entitlement programs, such as Social Security’s solvency and an ever-increasing food stamp program. Instead, all Congress did was make harder the lives of roughly 800,000 federal employees, all of whom have bills to pay.
Of course, our Congressional representatives were paid during this shutdown, but not the furloughed federal employees. Despite this crisis and subsequent “solution”, we have nothing to show for it. No deficit reduction, no entitlement reform, nothing. We have about 800,000 furloughed workers and a decreased confidence in our government.
Polls have shown that while Republicans took a major hit during this shutdown, neither Democrats nor Republicans have come out of this looking good. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that only 24 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican party, and only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of congressional Democrats. Even President Obama has an unimpressive approval rating of 47 percent.
It’s clear that despite many analysts suggesting that this is a “Republican” or “Democratic” shutdown, the American people are not buying it.
No one can be declared a “winner” in this situation. Hundreds of thousands of Americans went without pay for over two weeks and the businesses that rely on those federal workers and their disposable incomes struggled. Because of the current deal that Congress passed, we can all look forward to another potential crisis in just a few months.
Our political leaders need to come up with a long-term solution. The last time the Senate passed an actual year-long budget was April 29, 2009. Since then, Congress has funded the government with continuing resolutions, which get them through for a short period of time.
It’s time for Congress to pass a long-term budget. A long-term budget deal will keep Americans from going through a potential “government-shutdown” situation every few months. America needs a budget that will end deficit spending and make sure that our entitlement programs are solvent for future generations.
At its current pace, the Social Security trust fund could run out by 2033. And with our national debt climbing above $17 trillion for the first time last week, something must be done about this out of control spending.
Congress has truly kicked the can down the road on this one.
They’ve upheld the status quo, and unfortunately, that bodes well for no one. Congress must put their differences and egos aside, or America will continue to be dragged through the mud every time our political leaders refuse to negotiate and make the decisions we sent them there to make.