The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 18, 2013

With great power comes ... great failure | At election time, remember shutdown

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Our government is back to work.

That’s the good news.

The bad news? How about the fact that we have to even acknowledge that as if it’s some kind of accomplishment?

Yes, the people who we pay to represent us have done it so poorly that simply expecting them to keep the government functioning – not functioning well, just functioning – is asking too much.

So, what did the 16-day partial government shutdown, which Standard & Poor’s estimated took $24 billion out of our economy, accomplish?

Nothing, the way we see it.

The budget battle, which was waged over the two key issues of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and raising the debt ceiling, hasn’t been won or lost, merely delayed. The deal struck late Wednesday night solves neither.

Our congressional “leaders” managed to approve government funding only through Jan. 15.

Get ready for a holiday season filled with bickering, posturing and threats of another shutdown. Maybe the Christmas spirit will spur a compromise, but we doubt it.

There are serious issues to be worked out, to be sure. The implementation of President Obama’s universal health care plan has been contentious every step of the way, and the debt-ceiling issue is one that could have a tremendous impact on our nation, its economy and financial systems all over the globe.

We understand why people on each side of the political aisle were fighting for what they believe is right. But, just like we all have deadlines in our daily lives that we must keep, we expect politicians to stick to those hard-and-fast dates when they need to get a deal done. Come up with a plan that works for both sides. Compromise is never easy, but it’s why we elected them to those lofty positions – to come up with solutions to big problems. It’s why they make more money than most of us ever will.

We entrusted them with great power, and they have failed us greatly.

The beauty of our government is that while they have temporary power, we the people have the real, lasting power. We can let our politicians know what we think of the “job” they have done. It might not be until this fall. Or next fall. Or even 2015 but, sooner or later, almost all of them will come up for re-election.

That’s when we’ll need to remember how veterans were turned away from open-air monuments,

how government employees were furloughed from their jobs and how politicians decided after

16 days that maybe they could wait a few more months to come up with a solution.

We’ll definitely remember. And we hope our readers do, as well. If you’re unhappy with your elected officials – as poll after poll shows you are – hold onto that feeling the next time they come campaigning for your vote.

The government shutdown wasn’t just a failure by Republicans or Democrats, the tea party or even the president. It was a failure by all of them.

“There are no winners here,” Obama said after signing the extension.

We couldn’t agree more.