New Castle News

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October 8, 2013

Our Opinion: Politicians agree to pay workers amid shutdown — really?

NEW CASTLE — Let’s see if we understand this.

One aspect of the partial federal shutdown has been the furloughing of hundreds of thousands of government employees. Those deemed non-essential were sent home without pay when Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a budget deal.

And without workers, or the money available for them to perform their typical tasks, a variety of government services and programs are not available. National parks, federal landmarks and museums are closed, for example.

Meanwhile, other aspects of government have been disrupted and, eventually, funds for social programs — such as those for child nutrition aid — will dry up.

We understand all of that. We don’t agree with the idiocy that got the nation to this point, but we understand it.

What we don’t understand is the latest twist in this disturbing saga. On Saturday, the House of Representatives voted — unanimously — to guarantee all of these non-working federal employees their pay in full. The Senate is expected to concur on this and President Obama has said he will sign the measure.

So these individuals are not working. Their duties are not being performed. The public and taxpayers are being denied assorted services and benefits. Yet Democrats and Republicans in Washington somehow can come together and cover their salaries.

That means the only casualties remaining in this debacle are members of the public who foot the bill, but are not getting anything for it.

Does any of this make sense?

The rationale for paying furloughed employees is that the shutdown was not their fault, that they shouldn’t have to suffer because of the intransigence of the two political parties in Washington.

OK, but why then do members of the public have to suffer? Isn’t it oddly ironic that throughout this mess, the folks directly responsible for it have continued to receive their pay, still have the same staffing situation and have gone about their regular business while being irresponsible?

Regardless of your political leanings, you ought to be outraged at the thought the nation’s lawmakers can quickly — and without dissent — come together to provide pay for workers who aren’t working, but can’t resolve the budgetary issues behind the shutdown.

No member of Congress, including local Reps. Mike Kelly and Keith Rothfus, should get away with this slap in the taxpayers’ faces. They also shouldn’t be allowed to continue making excuses for failing to complete their budgetary duties.

Make no mistake: Congress as a whole is engaged in a disgraceful display of representative government. And the excuses they offer don’t wash.

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