I read with interest your article in the Nov 1, 2013 edition of Dan’s Papers. (“Hold Them Responsible: Government Shutdown Lessons”)
I grew up in the city and now live on the East End. I have lived for extended periods in Houston, Boston and Frankfurt, Germany and have had a chance to hear a wide range of views. Your paper was known in many of those places. It’s because of that wide readership that I wish to lodge my disagreement with your position. For the record, I believe that both political parties are equally reprehensible and fundamentally disingenuous.
There’s likely little to debate that the shutdown was damaging to the country. That Obamacare has been made the law of the land is also true. It was a close-run battle and there were many, many inducements to legislators to get them to sign onto it. Even the polarizing speaker had said: “We need to vote for this bill so we can get to read what’s in it.”…
As I recall during the news reports of the shutdown, it was the governing regime’s position that they would not negotiate, they wanted all of their demands or nothing. They practiced brinkmanship in the face of bipartisan attempts to reopen essential parts of the government…One statement you made is that the president is our commander-in-chief. You are wrong, flatly and dangerously wrong there. I’m not in the military and the rank of commander-in-chief is typically considered a wartime rank. The Oval Office has no authority over me outside of the Constitution, nor does the Oval Office have unrelenting authority over the military. The occupant of the Oval Office is a public servant; where there’s a dispute between the delegated orders and the execution of those orders by the executive, then the judicial branch is supposed to act as the disinterested arbiter to settle the dispute. The system of checks and balances was arranged to prevent a run-away government, or a rogue administration, from steamrolling their agenda throughout the country. So these procedural issues you decry as derailing the execution of government were in fact designed into the system to keep things in balance…To want things to be otherwise is to call for a dictatorship.
Near the end of your article, you suggest that the administration should go to Congress and press for laws to prevent this sort of government shutdown from happening again. Are you really calling for laws to prevent Congress from doing the duty they were elected to do: monitoring the interests of the American people they were selected to represent?
But your closing comment is stunning. That the administration should go to the courts to hold people accountable. Do you really and honestly mean that?
One thing that’s really amazing about your article is its apparent support of Obamacare. It was written after the launch of Obamacare and the utter, total and inexcusable failure of Obamacre to deliver on any of its promises: The ability to keep your current policy, the ability to see your current doctors, no increase in your premiums. Workers’ hours are being cut to avoid providing them insurance coverage. Even the Supreme Court played games by taking a position that was never entered into evidence, that the penalty was actually a tax [thereby breaking] with all legal precedent of judicial process…
Healthcare is a large portion of the American economy. We’ve gone to war for less money than this. When will they start waterboarding shirkers for not telling the truth? Let’s project ahead a little bit to a time when Obamacare is the operating system of healthcare in the land. Yet your attending physician can’t get an answer from his physician’s provider connection on the network to decide if you or a loved one can have a particular procedure, and for want of that answer from on high, you or your loved one die. Think that’s far fetched? Look at the record in the UK National Health Service or any other large, national health care provider for a heterogeneous population. Delays in answers cost lives. Responsive government is local government.
Finally, I’ve been a consultant for some of the largest pension systems in this country. I tell you flatly that Obamacare cannot work. That’s a mathematical certainty based on the numbers and a large, diverse population group. It would be great to live in a country where everyone had access to healthcare and where one chronic illness would not financially devastate the hard work and savings of a lifetime. But Obamacare is not the way to do it.
Joseph J. O’Byrne
The Due Diligence Company
Editor’s Note: With all that said, you don’t shut down the government.—Dan Rattiner