Truth and answers about Shutdown 2013 and the budget crisis

What is the truth behind the budget crisis and its impact on Shutdown 2013?  We asked T.J. O'Hara. Photo: White House / File

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2013 – In Rockville, Maryland this morning, President Obama, in his ongoing stated “spirit” of working with the House and Senate to end Shutdown 2013, said quite clearly “We will not negotiate…”

President Obama stood at a local construction business, not more than a few miles from my home. He spoke of how his policies, and the Affordable Care Act, benefit small business. How the Republicans push back is wholly at fault for the present shutdown.


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Tell that to Branson, Missouri business owners Gary and Pat Snowden.  

The Snowdens have been the caretakers of The Shepard of the Hills performance theater which has provided a Christian based entertainment destination for millions of the faithful since 1960.

The show is Americana at its best. The theatrical drama, “Shepherd on the Hills,” is based on a book written by Christian minister Harold Bell Wright in 1907. That book was the first book in US history to sell over one million copies.


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Now, after over fifty years of providing jobs to the residents of Branson, the theater is closing citing rising business costs, declining tourism and the “new health care mandate.”

President Obama’s repeated call that the Affordable Health Care Act is wanted by Americans and the general financial health of America is improving does not ring true throughout the Ozark Mountains today. 

So what is the truth of the matter? Is the Democratic Party, led by President Obama who long ago gave up the impression of being president to all Americans, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi at fault for the present budget crisis and government shutdown?

Or is it the John Boehner / Mitch McConnell GOP and the Tea Party causing our ills by being extremists who are “obsessed” with Obamacare? 


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Seeking out the sane and qualified we turn to T.J. O’Hara, an internationally recognized political commentator and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors and a veteran columnist here at Communities.  

In 2012, O’Hara emerged as a leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States. O’Hara won the first on-line “virtual” Presidential election, which was based on the quality of the candidates’ solutions, by a commanding 72.1% over Barack Obama.  Through his speaking and writing he continually offers solutions to the “inside the beltway ills.” 

O’Hara answered the call to help us better understand just what the budget crisis, Shutdown 2013 and the fight over the Affordable Health Care act is all about.

Kubin: What is the budget crisis?

O’Hara: The budget crisis is political fiction. The parties have manufactured it because they each believe they can gain a political advantage in the 2014 mid-term elections by exploiting it. It also underscores the absence of leadership in our federal government.

A crisis represents a point in time during which a critical decision must be made that may have serious consequences. The word suggests a non-controllable temporal element is at play. Nothing could be further from the truth with regard to the purported budget crisis.

I would submit that we are observing a fabricated budget problem instead of a true crisis. Had Congress met its obligation to have a concurrent budget resolution in place by April 15, as is required by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, no crisis would exist.

Instead, Congress has grown accustomed to ignoring federal law and delaying rather than deciding until such time that it can delay no more. In my opinion, the practice is absolutely appalling and an affront to the American people. To pretend that the supposed crisis couldn’t have been anticipated and prevented through responsible representation is to ignore reality.

Kubin: What role, if any, do you believe the President has played in the budget crisis?

O’Hara: Again, I don’t believe it’s a crisis. However, on the issue of the budget, the President has led by example. Unfortunately, it has been a negative one.

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires a President to submit a budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February.  President Obama has missed this date four out of the five years he has been in office. To put that into perspective, no other President has failed to file a timely budget in two consecutive years since the law was enacted in 1921.

The President’s action, or inaction in this case, sets a tone for Congress. When you consider Congress’s response to the President’s delinquent submittals, the problem grows even larger.

President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2012 went down to defeat in the Democratic-controlled Senate by a vote of 97-0. His fiscal year 2013 budget was similarly defeated by a vote of 99-0. What type of message does that send as to the seriousness of the President’s budget proposals?

Given this leadership, the Senate apparently felt comfortable ignoring its obligations under federal law for a period of over four years. When it did finally pass a Senate budget resolution, it was by a vote of 50-49, which is hardly a convincing margin.

Kubin: What are your thoughts about the government shutdown?

O’Hara: The shutdown, like the crisis, has been manufactured for political gain. Both parties are placing bets that they will be able to craft a message that will provide them with a respective political advantage in the 2014 mid-terms.

Unfortunately, they are betting with other people’s money. This emboldens them to take risks they might not otherwise embrace.

I hate to say this, but I believe they are counting on an uninformed electorate to once again be manipulated by fear-based sound bites in 2014. The Democrats are already claiming that the Republicans shut down the government because of an extreme wing of the party that wants to deny people medical coverage. The Republicans are already claiming that the Democrats shut down the government because they are entrenched in defending the Administration’s volatile healthcare law.

The truth is both parties failed to do their jobs with respect to the budget, and they needed to deflect attention from that reality. So, they followed the time-honored political tradition of blaming one another.

Had they invested the same amount of time in fixing the problem on a timely basis as they have on fixing the blame, the alleged budget crisis would have been averted as would the shutdown.

Kubin: Speaking of the government shutdown, what impact do you think it will have?

O’Hara: Innocent people will be hurt and taxpayer money will be unnecessarily wasted because of the shutdown. It is inexcusable. 

To add insult to injury, the President and his Congressional counterparts have theatrically drawn their superficial lines in the sand. We will witness the same tired charade.   

First, they will claim they will not negotiate; a tactic normally reserved for terrorists, but that seems to be how they would like to portray each other in the eyes of the electorate. When they become fearful that such juvenile behavior may have repercussions, they will reverse course and meet to resolve their differences. 

Each will claim to be the adult in the room, but their conduct will suggest that no such individual is present. An accord will be met; most probably in the form of a CR (continuing resolution) because, remember, they are far more comfortable delaying decisions than they are making them.

I hope the American people will awaken at some point and start paying attention. When they do, they will become less inclined to return the incumbents to office and more inclined to identify independents that will place the people’s best interests ahead of the best interests of a particular political party.

Kubin: How would you, as President, work through this crisis in Washington? 

O’Hara: First, I would actually work with Congress rather than show contempt for it. As an independent President, the partisans in Congress would immediately have learned that I would not have favored either party. Instead, I would have singularly focused on the best interest of the people. 

I would have spoken to both Chambers in an open forum to explain the new rules of engagement. They would have clearly understood my preference for the advancement of credibly written, single issue, non-partisan bills that distinctly represent the best interests of the people within the context of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. 

I also would have drawn attention to their oath of office and the commitment to the Constitution that it requires. 

I would have asked them to recognize that their individual opinions and ideologies are irrelevant to the task that is associated with that oath. I would have reminded them that Article V provides a mechanism through which they can change the Constitution, should they find it necessary, as opposed to yielding to the temptation to abuse the power of their office to accomplish the same. 

Correspondingly, I would have made it clear that I am not naïve. I know that both sides of the aisle would likely try to emasculate my Presidency. In that regard, I would have set forth how quickly and visibly that type of effort would be exposed to the American people both when it occurred and within relative proximity to the offending members’ next election cycle. 

Would they have tested me? Of course they would. However, once they experienced the response of real leadership, including the response of the people, I suspect their behavior would change and we might see some adults returning to the room.

_____________________

About T.J. O’Hara: O’Hara is the author of three books and is a highly-regarded public speaker.  Having some questions about the budget crisis and Shutdown 2013, T.J. is the “go to” guy for serious answers.

You can learn about T.J. O’Hara at TJOHARA.com.


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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