Jennifer Kluge vs. Rick Blanchard on The Government Shutdown

Duke it Out: Round 1

My boss, Jennifer Kluge, publisher of Corp! magazine and its website,, wants me to get in a fight with her on current issues. I think this is a lose-lose situation for me. But hey, why stop now!

The Government Shutdown

In this corner it’s Rick Blanchard!
The shutdown of the U.S. government shows just how far some in Congress will go to push their causes, at the same time disregarding their public responsibilities.

A key duty of Congress is to pass a spending bill that funds the government. If it doesn’t pass one by the start of the fiscal year, the government shuts down, except for essential services. Here are the widely reported issues:

Republicans in the House want to scuttle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also know as “Obamacare,” and are pushing that the new spending bill defunds or undercuts the landmark law. Democrats won’t budge on their support of the law.

Some Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, are adamant about destroying Obamacare to the point that they will shut down government to do it.

In simple terms, opponents of the Act say it is government overreach, will hurt employers, and does not solve the cost and other problems associated with obtaining health care in the U.S. They also are fighting the medical device tax, part of the law.

Supporters of the act say it will expand access to health care coverage, reduce or cap rising costs, and bar insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The other issue involved in the shutdown is the debt ceiling. At this point, it looks like a temporary increase of debt ceiling is being negotiated.

This “duke it out” matchup, however, is not about the Act or the debt ceiling. It is about shutting down government.

Since the shutdown began Oct. 1. An estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed. The Pentagon has called back 350,000 civilian workers; and thousands of Social Security Administration officials are back at work. Other federal agencies, as well, have called back workers.

A three-to-four week shutdown is estimated to cost the economy $55 billion. $55 billion! This is income to our nation. I ask you what business would block income, because they could not settle an issue? I tell you, business would find a way to keep bringing in income and reach a deal.

Families aren’t being fed; workers aren’t paying bills; national parks and museums are shutdown; people can’t get federal loans on homes, and the list goes on. It has been reported that the closure of national parks is costing local economies $76 million per day. Let’s not forget the cost of empty hotel rooms because events and shows must be canceled.

What’s the impact on low-income families and children who can’t get access to the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program? It is expected to shutdown soon because of dwindling funds. The WIC program helped my family out when we were young, struggling and working. It was a Godsend -“ believe me. Time magazine has reported that 53 percent of all infants born in the U.S. rely on WIC.

And what’s the impact on the global economy because of our inept U.S. Congress?

I just can’t fathom how the agendas of congressional members  -“ our servants -“ can shutdown government. It is immoral and irresponsible. It’s like me telling my boss that we won’t publish Corp! magazine or put its website online because the content doesn’t match my politics or agenda. Deals and disputes must be worked out. Middle ground must be reached. Our representatives must consider the bigger picture.

Congressional members and the president, however, continue to get paid. That is just plain wrong. Perhaps we wouldn’t have this mess if their paychecks were tied to keeping the government running.

In this corner it’s Jennifer Kluge!
The government shutdown has been enlightening. Our government can’t function without incurring more debt, the power of a handful of politicians can control the whole country and our President is a not encouraging debate and dialogue. And in jest, the Chinese will want collateral for their loans to us.  Why are we allowing a non-free republic to “own” us? How can we borrow money from a country that does not adhere to our beliefs in freedom? What a double standard. A big mess.

The government shutdown is a political strategy that has been used for years. While I don’t agree with it and what it does to innocent Americans trying to work, it is affective as a political weapon.  How about those American government workers who will be arrested if they work during the shutdown? If they are volunteering, why can’t they do what they need to do?  Stupid, right? It also brings to light the overspending that the government does for non-essential functions. Why are we funding a panda cam?  I’m just saying…

So here’s what has worked with the government shutdown, we are more knowledgeable on how horrid the American debt is that we could be defaulting on loans.  I know I don’t run my household this way, let alone my business.  Let’s borrow more debt to pay the debt we have.

The shutdown has also brought a focus on the problems with health care reform. While I don’t agree with the tactics, I do feel strongly that there needs to be many changes to health care reform so that small business is not taking on the brunt of the financial burden of reform. A simple expansion of Medicaid, regulations to force carriers to take everyone and not drop coverage with a nominal tax would have fixed things.  Why take over the industry, negatively impacting our economy and small business.

While my colleague mentions the cost to the economy of the shutdown … are we making cuts in spending, and how much are we saving?  I ponder.  I agree that families should get their pay, our defense staff should stay intact and our American workers should not be used as a political weapon.

I ask, when are we going to control the spending and borrowing of trillions of dollars. It makes us look weak and dependent. It politically hurts us in the world and attacks the financial stability of this great nation. How long can we continue to be a great nation when we owe so much money to others?  We have to cut spending, get our house in order. It’s an embarrassment to the American people.

Moving forward, Congress should enact that not any one group can shut down the government from functioning, but they should also not ignore the grave concerns with the negative financial impact of health reform, uncontrollable spending and debt.