Medical ethics teaches “do no harm”. It turns out this is superior advice in a wide range of other matters. None could be more apropos than the current Washington DC “death watch” over the budget and the debt limit. When in doubt about the next step, take one that “does no harm”. I wonder why this has not occurred to more legislators?
Shutting down the government does a lot more than just make headlines. It certainly will inconvenience a lot of Americans who wished to visit government parks and museums. Tea Party zealots, of course, glow with pride at this opportunity to get a message to Americans. But what message?
The hostage ransom is a delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act. This will leave thousands of Americans denied healthcare because of pre-existing conditions. It will leave millions more without insurance and one illness away from bankruptcy. Doesn’t sound like “do no harm” to me.
Stepping back for a moment. The fundamental issue seems to be a minority with exceedingly strong beliefs is stymied and cannot get its way. This group opposes Medicare, Medicaid, social safety net programs, and most other government regulations. They do not represent enough Americans to elect a majority or to elect the President. Their share of elected positions, however, is enough to gum up the Congressional process.
The proper place and time for a budget debate is on the floors of Congress. If agreement cannot be struck (because opposing views are held just as strongly), then a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) does little or no harm. The opposing minority has a chance every two years to elect Representatives and one third of the Senate. If their idea is a winning one, time will cure all ailments.
Each of these radical acting conservatives (and the closet Republican moderates who are shamefully keeping their mouths shut) will also hurt a more concentrated group of Americans. As each government department closes or furloughs its “non-essential” workers, the burden of the Tea Party tactics will hit their pocketbooks. This will bring real harm.
Pundits might say, “don’t worry”, Congress can pass a resolution to grant back pay once this Congressional impasse is broken. Hmmm.
The Tea Party tactics are not only hurtful, they are dim.
With respect to healthcare, the uninsured frequent the emergency room. These costs are subsequently spread over all other hospital and doctor fees. Guess who pays?
But even wilder is the idea that we shut down the government, send home the workers without pay, and then later agree to pay them for no work.
Hmmm. I am not sure the Tea Party will ever be ready for prime time.