Joe Kernan, the host of CNBC’s Squawkbox, one of my favorite hosts who tells it like it is, vented his frustration this morning as, once again, we are facing another potential government shutdown as the 2017 funding bill stalls, prompting me to expand on his statements.
In the early days of Congress, it was either freezing cold from a lack of heating in winter or blazing hot in summer because there was no air conditioning. Everyone was keen to get on with the business of Congress and get laws passed. Today, it is completely the opposite. Just consider all the privileges of our modern-day statesmen and women. It is almost better to hang around inside the Capital than to go into the real world.
Here are some of the privileges enjoyed on the Hill: base annual salaries of $174,000 (almost 3 times average private sector salaries), special health coverage, exclusive gyms with saunas, steam rooms, and barbershops (the Senate barbershop loses $350,000 per year on its own), flatscreen TVs, basketball courts, paddleball courts, and free exclusive airport parking ($17-$25 a day, or $6 per hour for you and me).
This seems more like the privileges and actions of the Lords and Ladies of Jolly Old England in the 19th century than of a modern day society.
All involved on the Hill are playing the same old game of “chicken,” tacking on bills that normally would not pass on their own, to other vital bills that should pass on their own easily. Thus causing another government shutdown. Some of these bills involve money that should have been appropriated long ago for vital projects such as Zika, the Flint water debacle and aging military equipment. The game plays out again in front of the citizens of this country who voted these politicians into office to get the job done in a timeous manner.
Our politicians in Washington are attempting to pass an appropriations bill containing multiple contentious bills on different issues all in one go knowing they will never get consensus on this!
It’s not as if this is the first time this has happened. The threat of a government shutdown is becoming a regular event. I recall, in particular, visiting a national park only to find that it was closed because there was no money to pay park rangers due to a government shutdown.
Folks, there has GOT TO BE ANOTHER WAY to conduct the business of the country without holding the public, and parts of the government, hostage. We know they will continue to do the same things over and over again for as long as we let them.
Isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? When government grinds to a halt who is in charge of the country?
It reminds me of a joke in Punch magazine. A man inside a loony bin is looking over the wall. Another man, on the outside of the wall, is walking down the street. The man in the loony bin hails the man outside and says to him “You should come in here. It’s crazy out there!”