Published: October 1, 2013 310 Comments
Josh Haner/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.
What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.
This danger was neatly captured by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, when he wrote on Tuesday about the 11th-hour debate in Congress to avert the shutdown. Noting a shameful statement by Speaker John Boehner, Milbank wrote: “Democrats howled about ‘extortion’ and ‘hostage taking,’ which Boehner seemed to confirm when he came to the floor and offered: ‘All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow.’ It was the legislative equivalent of saying, ‘Give me the money and nobody gets hurt.’ ” Continue reading “Our Democracy Is at Stake”
Federal employee groups laud Obama victory, seek to end pay freeze
President Obama’s reelection was hailed by major federal employee groups as a vindication of the view of government as a force for good, urging lame-duck lawmakers as they confront the fiscal cliff to acknowledge the contributions government workers have already made to deficit reduction.
“Leading our nation through one of the most difficult times in our history, President Obama plied a steady hand at the wheel and kept us on track,” said William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents 110,000 federal employees in 40 agencies. “Within government, he has taken innovative approaches to improving workforce morale, efficiency, and productivity” while involving employees in decision making. Continue reading “Federal employee groups laud Obama victory, seek to end pay freeze”