The Federal Government shut down Tuesday after House Republicans attached a provision to the continuing resolution that would put off the Affordable Care Act for one year. The continuing resolution – America's current stand-in for an approved budget – stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate as they refused to fold to Republican demands. All this hoopla has The Daily Beacon asking questions: What is 'Obamacare,' and why do conservatives oppose it? Why do liberals support it? Most importantly, how will it affect college students like us? Staff columnists Evan Ford and Adam Prosise weighed in.
Imagine you're a softball coach in the ninth inning. You've edged out a hard-earned victory, and your team is throwing the last pitch. Then suddenly, the opposing team's coach turns on a few fire hoses, points them at the ground, and floods the field.
Players are sloshing to higher ground, helmets floating out of overflowing dugouts. The game is technically over, you won, but now everyone is losing. There will be no more softball for days, the field's probably ruined, and everyone in the stands gets their pants wet, which is no fun.
The other coach warned you, too. He walked over to your dugout in the eighth inning, pointed to the hoses, and said, "If you don't throw this game, you know what's going to happen."
This is exactly what happened in the House of Representatives over the last couple of weeks, and I mean exactly. When the GOP let the government shut down by refusing to pass budget legislation, they flooded the field.
If you're unaware of what's going on, here's a three-sentence summary:
Three days ago, on Monday, the federal government was set to lose its spending power on the same day it opened a major part of healthcare legislation. The House GOP saw this as an opportunity, and refused to pass a spending bill unless the White House agreed to delay and defund Obamacare. Democrats refused, and as a result, all non-essential federal expenditures stopped.
As you've heard, this shut museums and parks, stopped pay for around a million federal employers and will cost the government billions in back pay.
The way I'm telling this story is important. With this order of events, it could seem that the Democrats had the last move and refused to budge, causing this shutdown. This is how the whole thing seems, and a lot of people are buying that this is a refusal to compromise, another failure of the two-party system.
Calling this "another failure in Congress" is false. There are plenty of failures of the two-party system, but this is not one of them. This is one team's coach flooding the field.
Think back to the softball example. Technically, you had the last move. After all, the coach warned you. You could have thrown the game, and spared the flood. You could have compromised. Are you to blame?
Two words: hell no. This isn't a compromise, it's a threat. It's what a top White House aide called "a bomb strapped to [the GOP's] chest." Obama likened it to being held ransom, and refused to negotiate.
Now, in the interest of balance, I should talk about some reasons for the GOP's actions that make sense. I'm willing to accept some arguments against Obamacare, and maybe they were right in wanting to delay some portions of the bill. Maybe, as Boehner said, "Americans don't want Obamacare," even if the 2012 election said otherwise.
There is a time and a place to debate the Affordable Care Act. Three years ago, when the law was being passed, was an appropriate time, as were the three years since when the House has repeatedly tried and failed to gut the bill. They had nine innings to win fairly.
Whether you love or hate Obamacare, whether you lean Republican or Democrat, these actions threaten the foundation of democracy in this country. For instance, if you hate Obamacare, you can elect representatives to repeal it. House Republicans are refusing to let this legislative process work.
The constitution calls for checks and balances to limit the power of any one section of the government. In this case, a minority in one house of one branch of government is holding power over the rest. They're ignoring legislative process and betraying the spirit of democracy.
Political disagreement and compromise are vital to democracy, and a healthy tension between big government and small government minded men keeps the government accountable for its spending. If Republicans hate Obamacare, the GOP should do what they can to limit it. That's their job.
But this is not war – all is not fair. Even if Obamacare is terrible, the GOP cannot ignore the tenets of democracy just to get their way. They cannot press pause on the salaries of millions of Americans because they want minority rule. They cannot be a bully to get what they want and expect no consequences.
But they did. They flooded the field. And all that's left of our democracy is a pair of soggy cleats.
Evan Ford is a junior in philosophy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Adam Prosise's column agaist the Affordable Care Act here.