Shutdown averted

The headline above — or ones similar to it — has been written several times in the past year as Democrats and Republicans in Congress repeatedly stepped to the brink of a budgetary abyss, then decided not to commit political suicide and reached short-term agreements to keep the government operating.

The narrative has become almost as commonplace as reports that list the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising by 300 points one day, only to tumble by an equal amount the following day.

But, while the stock market seems to be riding a roller coaster of illogical and inexplicable forces, many Americans have a good idea of what is causing the continuous budget brinksmanship.

Leaders of both parties, pushed by ideological extremists within their ranks, aim for the budget stance they believe will give them the greatest political advantage. As a deadline approaches and they realize there may be serious political implications in halting government services, they reluctantly agree to a short-term fix.

The latest budget shutdown was apparently avoided on Friday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency announcing it had enough funds to make it through the end of this fiscal year. That means Republicans didn’t have to demand cuts in other parts of the budget to satisfy their base, and Democrats didn’t have to mount a counter-offensive to protect programs revered by their base.

Monday’s Senate-passed temporary funding measure is expected to be approved by the House early next week, allowing government agencies to continue providing services as they have been doing.

But take heart, those who can’t wait for the drama of another budget showdown. This temporary plan only funds the government through Nov. 18. As that date approaches, expected more heated rhetoric and partisan attacks before anyone can trot out the “Government shutdown averted” headline once more.

Wouldn’t it be great if members of Congress decided it was their responsibility to pass a budget that actually funds government for an entire year, not just dally with stopgap measures that do little but provide repeated opportunities to blast the opposition?


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