Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fairness and Balance in the current debate over the Federal Budget: controversy over what the intentions of the Republican Party is in the Gridlock?

Keywords or Terms: Federal Budget Debates; Fairness and Balance; Unfamiliar Territory; Civility; President’s Veto; Tea Party

Fairness matters in any debate over a conflicting subject. It matters even more when the hold out by one of the party to the debate has the potential of undermining the welfare of a greater number of Americans. The untouched underlining argument of the Republican Party of, my way or the highway, places things in unfamiliar territory or floss: understanding exactly what the Republicans are attempting to achieve by flip flopping on their demands regarding the size of cut to the Federal Budget?

That the agenda of the Republican Party for the Federal Budget continues to change with the whims and caprices of a pressure group within that party, says a lot about the disarray in the Republican Party of today; and, probably horns on what the pressure group will wroth on public policy, if given the leeway. The Tea Party, and by extension, the Republican Party, view issues of budget cuts in the context of down-sizing the federal government to the extent that successful management of the basic services expected of a civilized government and society, are unachievable. That is why the threat of veto from the President is in order and probably long overdue. In light of the possible Presidential veto to the budget passed by Republicans in the House, the blog tonight is exploring the issues of fairness and balance in the current initiative over the Federal Budget.

The relentless but yet unenviable plodding of the Republican party’s faction asking that the Federal Government be shut down, smacks of a sense of responsibility to the led; and, questions the integrity of this group, if ever called to lead. Rather than talking about what we, Republicans and Democrats, can achieve together, the Tea Party faction are calling for us to throw out the baby with the water in the bath tub. No member of our society, who appreciates the good work of fire fighters, police officers, air traffic controllers, men and women in the uniform, immigration and naturalization officers, nurses and doctors, will consider any effort to undermine it. The mindset of being the apostle of government grounding does not show political leadership nor a currency for understanding behavior attuned to a balanced welfare of the state and its inhabitants, or decorum of leadership in challenging times. And, maybe we may talk about this in the future, but the question must be asked: why is it that when Democrats occupy the White house, Congressional Republicans are most embolden to shut down the government, or chose to always ground budget negotiations debates? Does this have anything to do with political civility, Republican nuances or a desire to be heard at all cost at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Some kid seeking a Ph.D. in American Political Science or Public Policy may attempt to provide some credible answers to the last questions. For now, the public wants the process of congressional debates over federal budget negotiations overhauled and specific order of outlier position reassessed, so we can have some civility in agreements or disagreements over the thorny budget issues. Obviously, with our current experience, fairness and balance mean very little to the faction in the Republican Party that is holding the nation to ransom.

Civility in political debates, even on issues of budget negotiations, calls for minimization of controversy even on items in the budget that one has a preconceived position. A line item in a budget that is being frowned upon by one aisle of congress may be treated in isolation as long as it does not show intent of systemic bias. When Republicans in the House passed a budget that funds defense till the end of the year, while it wants only a week’s budget for the rest of government, this reflects a bias for defense and a misunderstanding of the role of government or governance. Or, are the Republicans who championed this idea in the house today taking this route out of symbolism? No one is faulting the ideological position of the Republicans on defense, neither can they claim propriety over the defense of the nation, although they always want to, however, should things always go this way?

By contrast, why didn’t the Republicans in congress support funding of public health and safety; or, are public health and safety, less important? Certainly, funding of the nation’s defense is important, so also are researches into cure of cancer, leukemia and other deadly diseases, known to beleaguer the American public. A purposeful vote for funding of defense is just as critical as the funding of the Department of Health and Human Services. Whatever is wrong with underfunding powerful institutions and segment of the economy is just as wrong with funding or over-funding of defense. Using the power of congressional hegemony to undermine any segment of government financing is a prescription for disaster. Can an unhealthy body go to war for the nation or can an unfed army go to war and win battles? There is just too much interdependence among areas of our budget or line items that we cannot choose to fund one area, while leaving the remainder in limbo.

Only rarely is it wise to independently fund an area of our budget, such as supplementary funding of the operation of a war; however, when you fail to allot required and necessary money for execution of public policy and, or the operation of essential areas of the budget, including public health and safety, then something is amiss or wrong. Fairness demands that what is good for the goose is also good for the ganders. So, allocating necessary money to fund public health and safety or any other budget line items, as well as defense, won’t hurt the bravado of the Tea partier in the Republican Party. In case the Republican Party members are oblivious to this fact: there are 2012 Budget issues lurking around the corner to be addressed. The current fight over the outgoing year’s budget is like fighting over a shrimp while a platter of shark is waiting for you!

The Tea Partier in the Republican party are probably not concerned about fairness and balance in debate, but the anxiety they have created over the possibility of a government shut-down is taking a toll among federal employees who have bills to pay and responsibility to attend to. If ever there is a follow of the federal employees due to a shutdown in government, the republican Party would not only get a back lash, their credibility for showing leadership in time of crisis will be called to question. For example, in 1994, when the last Democratic President was in the White House, the Republican led a losing battle for shutting the government down. The architect of that shut down, the speaker who is now attempting to vie for the office of the Presidency, not only lost his credibility, he lost the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Worse more, he was tarnished forever as hypocritical when caught sleeping with his campaign manager, while still leading another ‘pull-him-down’ effort against the man occupying the White House at that time. In addition, the Republicans lost the house in the immediate election after all the fracas.

For many of us outside the government looking inside, especially into the current budget debates and gridlocks, it is our conviction that, in the name of fairness and balance, it is appropriate for Republicans to bury the hatchet, work in collaboration with Democrats and the Presidency, to reach a workable budget for the outgoing year and save the fights for the upcoming year. By so doing, Republicans would have shown that they are just as reasonable as the President when he subscribed to the initial size of cut to the budget that was advanced by the Republican Party. Number one, you don’t want to overdo the length of time spent on debating the budget when there are other issues of government, including over thirty bills in the house that have not been looked into or debated. And number two, you fight today and run to safety, so you can be here to fight tomorrow. No politician wins in a protracted debate, not even over the issue of funding defense, social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Our belief is that our congressional representatives do not have to make a choice over what items in the budget must be funded now, while the others are funded for just a week. You can be tough in holding own to your philosophy or beliefs; however, you must always leave room for compromise. You can be oriented towards the goal to cut the federal deficit, but when you take the recalcitrant posture for whatever reason, you are perceived as not being statesman like and somehow, a horrible lawmaker or representative. So, for now, let’s bury the hatchet and reach a budget, so the business of the people may continue. God, Bless America!

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