As you might have imagined upon reading the title, the heading is imaginary considering that naturally occurring phenomena are not subject to receiving federal funding. Of course given the Administration’s recent actions to inform the public of the American people’s complete dependence on federal funds for everything (for example, prohibiting access to over 1,100 square miles of Florida Bay’s prime fishing waters), I would not have blamed someone for believing otherwise.
In the first few days of the shutdown (it could more accurately now be called a slimdown), the message from the media and many in Washington was clear: “Republicans are holding the government hostage.” “Republicans have no right to do this.” “They are undermining the system.”
Since then the President’s administration has clouded that message because of the absurd lengths it has gone to make the shutdown as visible as possible (including putting traffic cones up at a roadside pull-off in South Dakota for a period of time so that people could not slow down to view Mount Rushmore).
I also believe the original message has become clouded as more people realize that the House has a legitimate interest in not providing funding for the Healthcare law. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton himself, in the Federalist Papers, explained that one of Congress’ powers was the ability to control federal funds. It should be noted that the House has already approved funding everything in the federal government but the Healthcare law.
In the final analysis, people will come to their own conclusions as to whether or not the Republicans’ current stand in Washington was the correct move. Regardless, the current standoff also brings into consideration whether Americans should have a federal government so pervasive and essential that having meaningful discussions on federal spending are impossible. Former President Gerald Ford in a Joint Address to Congress once stated “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” (This quote is also often attributed to Senator Barry Goldwater). The President and Senate Democratic leaders’ version of this for the American people (whether they intend it or not) seems clear: Unless we get federal dollars for everything we want, the American people should have little else.
To reference the media’s horrendous but often-used metaphor, I wonder whether it is the House GOP Members who are holding the federal government hostage, or if it is the federal government holding the American people hostage?