October 8, 2013

My point is... Furlough the Congress

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — While Capitol Hill remains the setting of a deadlocked Congress, many American citizens ponder the fate of their country.

With the Affordable Care Act kicking in this past week and the Republicans still holding out for a one-year delay, the stalemate in Washington D.C. could go on for weeks and months.

With political agendas of controlling the seal for the nation’s borrowing cap and the never-ending saga of “Obamacare,” our nation is exhibiting a true example of how big government operates.

Since October 1, millions of federal government employees are on furloughs. National parks are shutting down because no one is there to watch the home front. For those parks whose highest level of tourism is during October, the shutdown is another setback to their constant struggle for financial survival. Campers in these national parks and recreation areas were required to move out by Friday, with promises of refunds on any days paid up past October 4.

One comedian described the situation accurately when he addressed the government shutdown on Tuesday night. David Letterman, known for his political insults, told his audience and viewers, “Our national government has shut down. Take down your American flags because we are not America anymore.”

This analogy, however extreme, could be the picture we see over the coming weeks unless our elected government leaders can step aside from their party affiliation and do what they were elected to do — represent the people who put them in office. With President Obama’s approval rating plummeting over the past several months and the overall nausea stemming from our Congress, it is time for Americans to step up and speak up for our own interests. It is obvious that our elected officials in Capitol are not concerned with the effects on the American public, although their arguments are perceived and presented in that manner.

The Republicans are convinced the Affordable Care Act is the destruction of the working people while the Democrats seemingly praise it as the most needed act to ensure health care for all Americans. In the meantime, hard-working, honest employees are being downsized to part-time positions because their struggling employers cannot afford the required health care coverage. Those who currently have insurance are seeing skyrocketing rates on their policies to foot the bill for those millions of people who are uninsured.

National parks and government offices are closed during the ongoing debate, creating even more discord among American citizens. Many programs remain unfunded while the war in Washington rages on, while families receiving subsidized foods from WIC and other services are in limbo.

Perhaps government leaders should be forced to take an unpaid furlough during this turbulent time as the future of our country looms uncertain. Let the fat cats in Washington draw on their bank accounts for their income as most American workers have been forced to do since the bottom fell out of our economy. Let them survive with old model vehicles — fueled, maintained and paid for from their own pockets — like the average working person must do, and let them juggle their budgets to provide food for their family while they stretch each dollar to pay for utilities and taxes.

While I will still fly my American flag, it is not with the pride that I once held for our nation, and that frustration stems from my displeasure with our elected officials. A few bad apples can indeed ruin the entire batch, but the stench from Capitol Hill has spread like a killing fog across our entire country. People are disillusioned and frustrated, fed up with the government as it is, with little hope of any improvement even in the next administration.

It is time for our elected officials to stop their bickering, learn to compromise, and represent the best interests of the American people.

History shows us that the destruction of nearly every nation came from internal struggle, rather than outside take-over. It is my prayer that America does not join the roster of those who have.