By Suzanne Dean
The federal government shutdown scares me to death.
One of the reasons America is America, and not Mexico, Russia or Zimbabwe, is because, unlike those other countries, we have a long tradition of functional government.
That includes coming together when the chips are down and forging bipartisan compromises to get things done.
Suddenly, those traditions seem threatened. And if things don’t get back to normal soon, we could start to loose our good economy, our peaceful lifestyles, our freedom.
I’m concerned about federal employees who aren’t being paid. Some of them are my close relatives. I was thinking about them and worrying about them today.
If the Sanpete News Company kept people working didn’t pay them, the Utah Labor Commission would be knocking at my door. How is it that the federal government can get away with the same thing?
But I’m also worried about the things that aren’t getting done while the government is shut down. If the shutdown continues for a long time, it could be downright scary.
I have a friend who works at the rubber plant in Nephi. The machines there have all kinds of safety guards to keep workers from cutting off fingers and arms. Thank you Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
I own a car that was recalled because when the airbags inflated, a projectile could came out that could poke me in the throat and kill me. The recall was thanks to the National Highway Safety Administration.
Over Christmas vacation, I flew back to Washington, D.C. to visit family members. The pilot of the planes I flew in knew when and where to take off, and when and where to land. Literally hundreds of thousands of planes take off and land safely every year in these United States. Thank you Federal Aviation Administration.
As I was relaxing on my flights, I was not worried that my plane would be hijacked. That’s because of all the controls administered by the Transportation Safety Administration, including the TSA officers who searched my bags as I got on the plane.
If you live in Milburn or Hideaway Valley, you may be one of those people who wouldn’t have a house today if it hadn’t been for the U.S. Forest Service, its airplanes, its helicopters and its knowledgeable professional firefighters.
I could go on and on. on. We live in relative peace; drive on well-maintained, safe roads; and are able to get mortgages and small-business loans, all because of what generally is an honest, efficient federal government staffed by people with specialized education and training.
If the shutdown doesn’t end soon, many of those government employees will be forced to quit. How will we replace them? We can’t.
Who do I blame? I blame all sides in the dispute.
The reason President Donald Trump is insisting on funding for a wall, the details of which are not defined, is not because a wall is needed for national security.
He’s insisting on it because it was a naive campaign promise he made without checking into the realities of such a project. Now some far right commentators are telling him if he doesn’t get the wall approved, he won’t be reelected. My observation is that getting re-elected is more important to him than the welfare of the country.
This column is not about the wall. It’s about the shutdown. But I will say that a proposal to build anything, without defining the location, without someone figuring out how to acquire easements where the project crosses private land, without extensive engineering studies, without itemizing the materials required and without listing the cost of those materials, would not pass a single city council in Sanpete County.
I’m disappointed in Mitch McConnell. Most of the appropriation bills to fund agencies that are shut down have already passed the Senate by veto-proof majorities. Yet he doesn’t have the political courage to put the country first, do his duty a leader in the legislative branch, bring the bills to the floor, pass them into law, and open the agencies again.
I’m upset with Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats. The president has asked the speaker repeatedly to meet with him. She keeps refusing because she wants wall funding separated from other appropriation bills. She thinks the shutdown is hurting the president, which will help the Democrats in the next election.
It may well be that the $5.7 billion for the wall is a complete waste of government money. But according to administration economists, the shutdown is costing $1 billion a day. At this writing, the shutdown had been going for 32 days. That’s a $32 billion hit. I say, “Mrs. Speaker, compromise on the wall. Let it go, for the sake of the American people.”
Former Utah Rep. Mia Love, who is now a CNN commentator, delivered some wonderful common sense in a recent appearance. She said the solution will be for both sides in this debacle to get what they want. Democrats will have to plug their noses and give the president his wall funding. Republicans will have to accept permanent legal status for DACA recipients and other immigration reforms.
Ok, Mr. President, Mr. Majority Leader, Mrs. Speaker, Democrats, Republicans, it’s time to give in. Give the other people what they want, even though you don’t want it. Ending the shutdown trumps all other considerations.