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October 9, 2013

House of Burgess: The dangers of the 'death spiral'

Tea party leaves GOP, USA in free fall.

At 5 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time Friday, the National Weather Service in Alaska released a forecast with a hidden message.

On the surface it appeared to be your standard, technical weather chatter. But, if readers followed the first letter of each line of text down the left-hand side, they would discover hidden in mundane meteorological talk a cryptic plea:

“P_L_E_A_S_E_P_A_Y_U_S”.

This unusual cry for help was surely the result of a government shutdown originating on the opposite side of the continent, in Washington, D.C. At the center of this congressional fight sits the Affordable Care Act, already approved by all three branches of government. In protest of the law’s implementation, the tea party wing of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives decided to hold unrelated federal funding hostage, shutting down much of the government as of the stroke of midnight Oct. 1. (In case you were worried, these politicians’ checks still arrived on time.)

I say: You want to shut down the government? Fine. Do it for real. Stop delivering mail. Send the police home. Tell the firefighters to sleep in. Tell the air traffic controllers to catch up on their Netflix queues.

The truth is, those who hate government would never dare. They shut down only what they think they can get away with. I think they know if they ever did go all the way, the people would quickly realize how much government actually does — and how much of it they actually count on.

Besides, aren’t Republicans supposed to be the party of business? Government shutdowns don’t make economic sense. They never have.

A 2010 Congressional Research Service report on the 1995 and 1996 federal government shutdowns found: “health and welfare services for military veterans curtailed; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped disease surveillance; the hiring of 400 border patrol agents cancelled; and more than 20 percent, $3.7 billion, of federal contracts, affected adversely.”

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