Viewpoint: Congress should not get paid during the shutdown

By on October 11, 2013
ForumOpinion

Most people know that the government shut down last week due to Congress’s failure to pass a federal spending bill.  As a result, many government employees are out of work, several agencies are closed, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, “Only web sites necessary to protect lives and property will be maintained.”  The effects of the government shutdown are being felt around the country.  Most people have been impacted in some way, except, ironically politicians.  Congressmen are still being paid for doing, well, nothing.

I’m not one to fall into the trap of conspiracy theories, but a part of me cannot help but to believe that the politicians that orchestrated this drama aren’t exactly distressed with the government shutdown.  In fact, it seems that this is what they wanted all along.  The goal of the shutdown seemed to be to prevent Obamacare from being implemented, but ironically, the healthcare bill has not been impacted by the shutdown.  Shouldn’t the Republicans who have been rallying against the healthcare bill have known that a government shutdown would not affect the bill and that closing federal government offices around the country to throw a fit about a law that has already been passed would only harm innocent bystanders?  I’m starting to think they just don’t care.  After all, why worry about the consequences about throwing a fit when it won’t affect you or any of your friends or family?  The people facing the ramifications are strangers.  Surely, the lack of consequences made it easier for them.

Seeing as many of the programs necessary for the health and safety of citizens are still being funded, including Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamp program) and school lunches, not everyone is being harmed as a result of the government shut down. Obviously, police forces or firefighters have not been shut down either, but mostly state and local governments fund them.  But what about the people who aren’t working, and as a result aren’t getting paid?  Their livelihood is at stake while the Congressmen are losing absolutely nothing.  In fact, they’re making their six figure salaries and reaping in donations from fundraisers.  It’s raining money for many in Washington.  These people sit in air-conditioned offices and argue over policies.  What about scientists funded by the National Institute of Health who make groundbreaking discoveries about cancer?  What about the people who run our national parks?  They may get paid retroactively once the government reopens if Congress passes the vote, but no guarantee is in place.

I fail to understand why the men and women of Congress are getting paid when everyone else is not, especially when this whole mess is their fault.  For everyone else, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  I know I can’t be the only who thinks that our government system is severely broken.  The question is, what is it going to take to fix Washington? Nothing so far has seemed to work.

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