In 1961 the Sensations had a song that hit the charts entitled “Let Me In.” Some of the lyrics went “Open up (let me in), I want to come in again. I thought you were my friend.”
This is what I would say to the politicians who have all conspired to close down part of the government because we thought they were our friends, but it turns out they are nobody’s friends except themselves.
We are now well into the third week of the partial government shut down and the name of the game is who is going to be blamed. Partisans on both sides are quick to point the finger at the other side but I would use the old adage of “when you point your finger at someone else you have three fingers pointing at yourself.”
The unfortunate consequences of this political gamesmanship are the people who actually are being barred from working and are not receiving their paychecks. But the political leaders who refuse to come to the table and compromise continue to blame each other and don’t seem to care about the people most affected unless they need to use them as props. Another unfortunate fact is that most people in this nation do not save and therefore they are living from paycheck to paycheck. That is another argument for another day but suffice it to say that most federal workers could be setting aside a small portion of their income for a rainy day, but they are like most Americans and feel they need to buy things more than save. But the reality is they need their paychecks and they have bills that are coming due. Using them as pawns in this political debate is unfair and a solution must be found.
I should also note that the people that will be most injured financially are those that work for government contractors. Federal employees will get all of their back pay and will be made whole. Not so for employees of contractors. If they don’t get paid their employees don’t get paid, and there will be no provision to give them back pay.
So, what is the solution? First, we have look at the root of the problem. President Trump wants to build a barrier (wall) on the border and made this a central part of his campaign. Democrats, being the party of the opposition, are opposed to any border barrier and have gone to the extreme of calling it immoral. For honesty’s sake, Trump is being more consistent on this issue because he has never wavered on this promise and Democrats are on record as supporting barriers and reducing the level of illegal immigration. Trump feels like he has to build the wall (barrier) or he will lose his base. Democrats feel that if they give in on this, they will anger their base. What about all of us in the middle?
As you can see this is more about the 2020 elections than anything else. As a nation, we need a comprehensive immigration bill and any reasonable person knows that will mean stronger border control and may, in fact, require some form of a barrier. One of the arguments in this debate is that Trump is saying we have a crisis at the border and Democrats, with the help of their friends in the media are saying it is a manufactured crisis. Their logic is that border apprehensions has been declining in recent years. In fact, illegal immigration is only 60% of what it used to be. For those that say we don’t need any barrier, I wonder if you leave your home open all the time. I want to get this straight. If your home was broken into five times a few years ago and only three times this year, then there is no need for any improvement in security because the problem is less than what it was. I would bet that after the first break in several years ago you put a stronger security system in place and it if continues the security would increase exponentially.
Back to the solution. I would propose both sides sit down this week and come to a partial agreement. They will draft and 60-day Continuing Resolution that will reopen the government agencies currently closed, get the back pay agreed upon, and then commit to finding a solution to the impasse. In that agreement, they would both admit that if they cannot find a solution, they are both to blame. That agreement could take the form of many of the sub-issues that are percolating around this major problem. That would mean a resolution of the DACA problem. That would mean some form of increased security at the border, even if that meant Democrats had to concede on some form of barrier, and a stronger E-Verify program. All of these sub-issues have been well debated and could take the form of a first step in immigration reform, or in a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.
If at the end of the 60 days, there is a strong indication that a compromise is being forged it could be extended for an additional 30 days. But if no progress is being shown and both sides refuse to compromise then the American public will know that neither side is blameless, and both sides are using this issue for political gain and have no real concern about arriving at a solution. Maybe, just maybe, the voters in some very red districts and states will replace their representatives with more moderate leaders and in very blue districts and states, they will do the same. If we got rid of the extremists on both sides and got reasonable people who are willing to find compromises, we might actually get something done on this and other issues.
I say we should start forcing politicians to work together for the benefit of the American people and not for the benefit of their political ideology and the goal of attaining power.