Tahlequah Daily Press

October 9, 2013

Shutdown hurts Republicans, too


TAHLEQUAH — It’s considerate of Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin to offer to return his salary during the federal government shutdown. Since he’s one of the movers and shakers behind this daft stalemate, it’s the least he could do.

We understand Mullin’s disgust at government bloat and spending. What sensible American wouldn’t be incensed by the billions wasted each year by various governmental entities through ineptitude, cronyism, and personal greed? We also realize that most folks in Mullin’s district opposed “Obamacare,” and his resistance simply mirrors the will of many constituents.

But holding hostage the entire federal government and the people on its payroll just to make a point about the Affordable Care Act is puerile and counterproductive, and ultimately transmits yet another negative message to the rest of the world.

Mullin and others in Congress are blaming Democrats and Obama for “not listening to what Americans want.” But to which Americans do they refer?

Difficult as it may be for some to accept, the majority still rules in this country – and the majority wants at least basic health coverage for this country’s citizens. That majority may not be in Oklahoma, or even in Cherokee County, but it includes the largest bloc of Americans – the same bloc that returned President Obama to office last year. Signing petitions to secede from the union, calling health care supporters “treasonists,” or stooping to the rankest possible partisan politics won’t change that.

Nor will this divisive behavior improve public sentiment for Congress. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll shows a 70 percent disapproval rating of Republicans in Congress, with 51 percent “strongly” disagreeing with their strong-arm tactics. Their Democratic counterparts aren’t much more popular: 61 percent in the poll gave them the thumbs-down. Meanwhile, Obama’s rating, while only 45 percent, is nevertheless up from 41 percent last week.

Many Republicans are watching with consternation, if not horror, as events unfold. The GOP may stand for smaller government, but Republicans also hold federal jobs – which means they are also suffering through the furloughs and layoffs that are decimating family budgets and taking critical dollars out of the private business sector. Notably not among the suffering are Mullin’s staff members, who have been declared “essential” and are thus getting their checks.

Someone’s going to pay for this outrage, and it won’t be Obama, who has only three more years to accumulate wrinkles and gray hair until he retires to the lecture circuit. It may be members of Congress – from both parties – who evidently forgot that government of, by and for the people is, in fact, the people themselves.

That’s why most of our so-called “public servants” need to be sent packing at the next opportunity, so they can gather their expensive toys and go back home – if their constituents will have them.