In 2009, President Obama told Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA), “Elections have consequences, and I won.” As with his healthcare law, amid this year’s impasse, he said “there will be no negotiations on the debt ceiling” and “I shouldn’t have to offer anything” in dealing with Republicans. To ensure that Americans got the message, the National Park Service was told “to make life as difficult for people as we can,” one frustrated ranger informed reporters.
As the White House, Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over debt limits, the budget and the growing disaster that is Obamacare, the situation has become surreal.
Some 800,000 federal workers were furloughed without pay, and the economic ripples caused many local businesses to lose revenues. The pain is palpable. But for government workers it is only temporary.
The House voted to restore the government employees’ paychecks once the brinkmanship is over; the Senate will almost certainly follow. That’s how previous shutdowns were handled. Moreover, the Defense Department has already brought back most of its 350,000 furloughed civilian workers.
However, those local private sector workers will never recoup their lost income – and that’s only the leading edge of the economic tsunami, and the way the President runs his Executive Branch.
Death benefits were withheld from grieving families of heroes killed in Afghanistan. The Park Service permitted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to lead an immigration rally on the National Mall, but closed the World War II Memorial to aging veterans who had arrived on Honor Flights. The vets breeched the “Barackades,” and the “Spite House” backed off – but only for veterans, and not elsewhere.
The Service padlocked parks and monuments all over America, disrupting long-planned, fully paid vacations. It blocked roads and parking lots to privately owned and operated sites like Mount Vernon and Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park in Virginia, ensuring that major events during one of their busiest months would be cancelled and much of their revenue would be lost forever. It closed highway overlooks at Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. The feds even closed hunting areas and booted people out of their homes at Lake Meade and on other federal lands. This had not been done during prior shutdowns.
Amidst it all, Mr. Obama insisted that he opposes “extortion” and “hostage taking.”
Elsewhere, federal lawmakers and bureaucrats have been busy for years. Thousand-page Dodd-Frank, unaffordable healthcare and other laws that no one read before enacting them were followed by 10,000-page regulatory decrees to interpret and impose the legislation. The IRS targeted political “enemies” and their financial supporters, and gave leftwing groups the names of donors to conservative organizations.
The Interior and Energy Departments and Environmental Protection Agency are spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars annually mandating and subsidizing wind, solar and biofuel programs – and exempting them from endangered species laws. Meanwhile, they wage war on coal, oil and gas, mining, logging, ranching, fossil fuel-based manufacturing, and the communities that depend on those industries for livelihoods and living standards.
EPA alone issued over 1,900 new regulations since January 2009 – many of them based on questionable science, cherry-picked studies, unsupported assertions and even illegal experiments on humans. Ignoring clear congressional intent and federalism principles, it usurped numerous state air and water programs.