Government shutdown doesn’t put a damper on Obamacare

Dear Congress,

How are you folks doing? I know it’s been a pretty rough time for you right now, what with the government shutdown and the impending refrain of the debt ceiling debate and the fact that nearly everyone in the country thinks you ought to be fired, if not outright shot. I mean, it’s really not looking good on that score. A 10 percent approval rating? Ten percent? Public opinion hasn’t been this united on how much Congress sucks since . . . ever, actually.

To be sure, the government shutdown has a lot to do with that, since the whole stupid mess makes it look like you couldn’t agree on which anniversary edition of Star Wars to pop into the DVD player. I mean, Congress really has one primary job as dictated by the Constitution and that job is to pass a budget and fund the government. When you can’t even do that much, it’s hard to blame people for pulling out the pitchforks.

Of course, one thing you have been able to do is pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which some call Obamacare and which is now starting to go into effect, regardless of the government shutdown. Getting Obamacare into law was a real struggle, but you made it happen. Even the Supreme Court said it was constitutional. After the fight was officially over, you’d think even the extreme wing of the Republican party would move on to other battles, particularly because Obamacare was modeled after an old healthcare plan that was hatched by the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank. The Republicans should have been happy with this, or at least accepted it when the nation’s highest court gave it the green light.

Instead, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives tried to repeal or defund Obamacare 42 times, eventually tying their irrational demands to the budget bill in an attempt to get their way by sheer intimidation. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama, totally over this whole Republican obstructionism thing, replied that the issue was no longer under discussion, and that they would not allow themselves to be politically blackmailed. The result, of course, was the shutdown. There are a lot of different people in your ranks being blamed for this, Congress, but for the most part, they’re just blaming you as a whole.

Hey, don’t worry about it. Everything is going to be okay. I mean, none of you are about to lose your jobs or anything. Most of you are a lock to get re-elected no matter what the approval numbers are; it’s easy when you can redraw the maps of your districts so you only have to represent people who already agree with you.  Hell, you’re even getting paid during the government shutdown, while 800,000 federal workers are being forced to take an unpaid leave of absence. Good thing your paycheck comes out of mandatory federal spending instead of discretionary spending, huh?

As you probably know, discretionary spending is where national parks and monuments get their funding, along with education programs like Head Start and aid programs like Meals on Wheels. None of that “non-essential” stuff is working right now. You know what’s not funded by discretionary spending? Obamacare! That’s right, Obamacare is mostly funded by a new tax and other mechanisms that fall in the realm of mandatory spending. That means you folks in Congress shut down a decent portion of the federal government over a law that will not be in the least bit affected by said shutdown. There’s an accomplishment you can be proud of.

Anyway, just wanted to make sure you were keeping that collective chin up. Remember, the key to victory is not cooperation or compromise, but to wail incoherently at the other guys like a petulant toddler. After all, you have no reason to actually represent the people of this country; almost all of you are getting re-elected no matter how poorly you do your jobs. 10 percent, schmen percent; until Americans finally wise up and realize the system they’ve been taught to believe in their entire lives is flawed down to its core, they’ll keep letting you screw them over. Plus, they watch way too much TV to be going through enlightenment any time soon. Is this a great country or what?

Originally published in The Lumberjack (


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