Recently I touched on the effects of Washington politics on the country at large (and the world). Today (in a late post), I’m going to discuss how I see the political fighting in Washington affecting the area I serve – Huntsville and north Alabama.
In my first post talking about the trouble with Washington, I discussed how the “Tea Party” was holding the Republican Party in the House of Representatives hostage, leading to a near government shutdown. I, like so many people in Huntsville, work on a government contract. The military and NASA are huge here in Huntsville, and as the government inched toward a shutdown, I started to worry that I wouldn’t get paid. Lucky for me, the money that was used to pay me back in March and April had already been paid out to the contract, so I wasn’t at risk of not getting a paycheck. But I know that I was one of the lucky ones in that regard. Well, really, everyone got lucky that the Republican Party was able to step up, and the Democratic Party was able to step up, and both Parties were able to (mostly) work together to get things figured out and avoid a Government shutdown. I’d also like to point out that if the Senate were controlled by the GOP instead of by the Democrats, the Democratic President could have still hindered any progress made (more quickly) by the Congress with regards to passing a budget and preventing a Government shutdown.
The next day I touched on the larger issue at hand – the debt ceiling. As a conservative, I don’t want to raise the debt ceiling. I think the fact that this country is $14.3 TRILLION in debt, and we need more borrowing power is appalling. I think the fact that we’re inching day by day toward that ceiling, instead of already having a plan (six months or a year ago) is also appalling. But the fact remains that we have gotten ourselves into this terrible situation, and the beginning of the way out is to raise the debt ceiling so the Government doesn’t default on its loans or need to completely shut down. After the debt ceiling has been raised, the Government needs to figure out a way to cut spending (DRAMATICALLY) and possibly raise revenue (I don’t think it’s fair to the American people to raise taxes, but according to the people in Congress and the White House we can revamp the tax code, close some loopholes, and get more revenue – without raising taxes). Also, AFTER this crisis has been averted (and yes, it is a crisis), Congress can talk about a balanced budget Amendment to the Constitution. But the fact remains – to avert a crisis, the first thing that needs to be done is raise the debt ceiling.
So what happens if the debt ceiling isn’t raised? How will it affect north Alabama? Well, because the Government has been spending more money than it takes in, it will be bankrupt. This means that it will likely have to shut down, because it won’t have any money to pay people with. Welcome back to the Government shutdown scenario from March and April. All the contractors for DoD and NASA won’t be able to be paid because there won’t be any money coming from Washington. Some large companies (like the one I work for) could put employees on overhead until the people in Washington figure out how to properly run a Government. But smaller companies won’t have that option, and many may need to shut down. I once heard someone comment that with the rate companies were laying off people earlier this year, Huntsville would have the highest per-capita of laid off engineers. With a Government that can’t pay its bills to the companies here in Huntsville, those same companies are going to need to lay workers off just to stay alive. Huntsville will truly have a lot of laid off engineers. With a lot of people laid off, the local economy will be impacted (which will add to the economic impact of a government default – including higher interest rates). Two-income families will become one-income families. Single people will suddenly be unable to pay their bills. More people will end up on unemployment, which will put a strain on the State Government overall. The scenario gets worse and worse.
How can all of this be avoided? It’s simple. The people in Congress (both the House and the Senate) need to remember that we have a BI-PARTISAN Government. These two Parties both bring something to the table, and they are supposed to balance each other out so that we have a functioning Government. But when one Party listens to a minority group, such as the “Tea Party”, then they fail to remember that compromise is key when running a bi-partisan Government. When one Party fails to listen to what the other Party wants (as both Parties ultimately are guilty of), then neither Party is able to advance their goals, and things like Government shutdowns happen.
I know I’m one person, in a relatively small city, with a limited readership, and maybe my ideas are just as whacky as the ideas of the “Tea Party”, but I honestly feel like the citizens of the United States of America need to stand together and demand of their Government, not only bi-partisanship, but that the Government stop looking out for what’s best for the people who make up the Government, or what’s best for the people who run the political Parties, and start looking out for what’s best for the United States of America as a whole – look out for how to do the most good for the most citizens of this great country.