Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid And Congress – Act II

Billie Greer
Public Policy Advisor, She served as a member of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s senior staff.

Butch Cassidy : Alright. I’ll jump first.
Sundance Kid : No.
Butch Cassidy : Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid : No, I said.
Butch Cassidy : What’s the matter with you?
Sundance Kid : I can’t swim.
Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.

So went the dialogue as Paul Newman and Robert Redford jumped over the cliff and escaped to Bolivia.  Once again Congress is poised on the fiscal cliff, with the prospect of a free fall in the making. It’s de je vu as another potential government shutdown looms due to bickering in D.C.

Two years ago I wrote an article that almost mirrors this one as both parties wrestled with how to reduce the federal deficit, deal with the debt ceiling and craft a budget as the nation emerged from the recession. Politics clicked in — leading to a two week shut down with pressing issues left on the table. So here we go again. In 2013, attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act were the spoiler. This year, it’s about defunding Planned Parenthood as Democrats and Republicans go at each other, notwithstanding that a veto by the President is a given. Also in the mix are efforts to reverse deep spending cuts imposed on domestic and defense spending, with disparate attitudes across the aisle. Meanwhile, future funding of programs important to the well-being of Americans and our defense readiness is on the shelf.

A shutdown of the government, even if of short duration, is disruptive and expensive. The Los Angeles Times reported that the debacle two years ago cost taxpayers an extra $24 billion to shut down government programs and then reopen them. And, a repeat now reinforces the already existing voter attitude that Congress continues to be dysfunctional.

September 30 is the fiscal year deadline so in the days ahead the full array of tactics will roll out which will likely include filibustering or the threat thereof, attempts at compromise, a push for a stopgap funding measure and procedural machinations.

Congress has much to weigh over the next couple of weeks.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid survived the fall off the cliff despite the Kid being unable to swim.  Let’s hope California is as lucky.

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