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Larry Hirsch

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Keep Eye on Funding Levels in Budget Talks

Posted: 09/30/2013 5:59 pm

Currently, all attention on the budget negotiations in Washington is centered on the Republicans outrageous attempt to tie funding the government to delaying funding for Obamacare. This tactic will likely result in a government shutdown for an indeterminate amount of time and deserves to have the spotlight focused on it. The Tea Party Republicans deserve to be shown as the reckless people they are by risking economic calamity in the name of stopping the health care reform this country needs. However the question remains once this impasse is over, at what level will the government be funded.

This summer the Republican-imposed sequester resulted in cut to a number of important programs across the government. While a last-minute agreement kept air traffic comptrollers immune to the cuts in many lower profile ways communities across this country are hurting. From economic development projects to important federal contracts, many jobs were lost due to the sequester. Hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries to government employees were lost due to furloughs, further slowing economic activity. So the question is will the government be funded at pre or post-sequester levels. President Obama and Democrats in Congress must insist that funding go back to pre-sequester levels to keep our economy growing and ensure that government performs the vital services it needs to do. If the government is funded is post-sequester levels, the Republicans win as they will have taken a major step towards ensuring a permanently smaller government. The whole Obamacare debate may be a smokescreen to achieve this, taking the whole focus away from the ultimate funding levels for the government.

Of course the Tea Party may have overstepped their bounds this time and be exposed for what they really are, small but vocal minority out of step with the majority of mainstream Americans. Even some within their own party seem outraged at their tactics and only vote with them because of their fear of facing a primary battle. When the far right or left overstep their bounds they often fall to the wayside to the moderate wing of their party. One need only look to the last government shutdown to see what happened to Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America. This will likely be expedited if the Tea Party continues its economic hostage taking to the talks over increasing the debt limit which could result in an economic calamity if no agreement is reached.

The Health Exchanges are about to open for registration on October 1 and millions of Americans will be able to purchase affordable health care. Obamacare will work and the Tea Party is scared of this and their lies being exposed. If they thought otherwise, the Tea Party would not delay Obamacare but make it an issue in next year's election. They know it will work and people will like it. For the good of the country, Congress needs to pass a budget that the president will sign and it should be at pre-sequester levels.

 
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