Sunday, April 10, 2011
I just have no constructive way to talk about the budget--I blame elevators.
But is the deal any good--what does it bode for future fights, like the debate on the debt limit and the next budget? My gut feeling is--it could be worse! And guess what? I think the next battles will probably look worse! But I just can't get started, and I blame a conversation I heard in the parking garage elevator on the way to my car after work on Friday.
It went like this:
Co-worker to a friend: So, the government could shut down this weekend.
The friend: Why?
Co-worker: They're out of money.
At this point, the political blogger has nothing to say. Had the shutdown been made effective, I understand postal services would still have carried on, but people wouldn't have gotten their federal tax refunds. And the idea that some people might only know the government shut down when they had a vague feeling that their tax refund should certainly be here by now, and got the 411 from a taped message on the IRS hotline, just makes me throw my hands up.
This budget thing is really quite important to many people, true. And some other people are too busy to know about cuts to Head Start or programs that make sure economically disadvantaged kids see a vegetable every now and then. They don't know the government almost shut down over funding for Planned Parenthood, or that the deal involves the federal government telling the pretty-much un-represented city of Washington D.C. what they can and can't do with their own tax revenues (not even Fed money!) regarding a woman's right to chose. In the poliblogosphere, this was a big freaking deal. And for other people--meh. No time for "political drama"--for them.
It's not a drama, and it isn't about "who put up points" either. I think Democrats could have been more vocal and less conciliatory, and when the GOP held the shutdown over their heads--they should have said "it's on you."
It's on the GOP. Of course it is. They are the ones who don't think government should be involved in so many programs, funding so many different little meaningful things that make people's lives better. It's the GOP that is influenced by the Tea Party contingent, who view politics like bloodthirsty NASCAR fans that aren't as interested in the skill-contest of drivers negotiating left-hand-turns on an asphalt oblong at great speed, so much as they are speculators gawking for the possibility of a front-row seat at a flame-out. The hard bargain could have been driven, and the budget shut down could have occured with the advantage of pinning a great scarlet "A" for asshole to the Mike Pences of the Grandstanding Old Party, who blathered about principles in front of Teahadists chanting "Shut it down." The Democrats could have said: "We gave in well enough--how about you all make some concessions, too?" And make them come back with a sober picture of what deal-making really looks like--
But that's easy for me to say. I'm a pajama-clad civilian nursing a whiskey and soda and opining on the basis of paying just a smidgen more attention than someone in an elevator who didn't even know a budget debate was going on or that a shut down could happen. And I'm a little derailed by their not knowing, or maybe not caring, or being turned-off by processes like this, when this sort of thing fascinates and engages and even frustrates me. If they knew or cared--wouldn't elections be different? Wouldn't politics be different?
And what the hell can be done to make them take notice, because damnit--more people should!
I dunno. I'm refilling my drink. And I will be paying close attention...AGAIN....re: the deal and its fallout. Because there is always fallout.