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My thoughts on the government shutdown

October 16, 2013
By State Rep. Dean Fisher - R-Garwin , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

One of the things that has become crystal clear to me amidst all of the rhetoric and posturing that is going on over the federal "government shutdown" that began at the beginning of October is that Iowa does it better. Much better.

First, let's engage in some common sense and honesty. The federal government hasn't shut down, that is rhetorical nonsense. Only a small percentage of the federal government has stopped functioning. Welfare payments continue unabated. Social Security is still making deposits in our elder folks' bank accounts. Medicare and Medicaid are still functioning. The FBI is still investigating crimes. Our military is still on duty, as are our border patrols. Unfortunately, the IRS is still partially functioning, your tax dollars are still being collected, but they've ceased issuing refunds during the shutdown. The IRS is not complying with subpoena requests from the US House of Representatives either, so investigations into IRS harassment and corruption within the presidential administration will come to a halt. I can also tell you that the US Congress is still getting full pay and benefits. Notice I didn't say they were functioning, that would be a bit of a stretch. However, the White House staff has taken a hit, the First Family will have to get by with only 15 on staff instead of the usual 90. Only a few government functions that are deemed "non-essential" have ceased, like our national parks and national monuments. To their credit, Congress has passed a few bills to keep a few functions running with pay, such as our National Guard.

Legislators in Iowa are paid a per diem for our living expenses for 110 days in the first year and 100 days in the second year of our term. If we can't resolve disagreements and finish our budget work in that allotted time, we don't get paid for those extra days' living expenses; those additional expenses come out of our own pockets. Our legislative clerks are released at the end of those allotted days as well. Iowa's legislators have to do their own clerical work when we go into overtime. We did just that in the 2013 legislative session, working 3 weeks beyond our allotted 110 days. It motivated the legislature to get the job done in a way that kept the state functioning.

Article Photos

State Rep. Dean Fisher

Washington should follow the Iowa example. When they can't resolve the budget in time, instead of closing our national parks and shamefully barricading our national monuments, Congressional pay and expenses should stop and congressional staff should be scaled back to a skeleton crew, the President should forgo his salary, and all non-essential White House staff should be laid off until an agreement is reached and passed through both chambers. The White House can do without its chef and kitchen staff for a few days or weeks without the republic crumbling. If the US Senators and Representatives answer their own emails and phone calls for a few days they just might learn what their constituents really think. Then the inconveniences that go with Congressional disagreements will be felt by those that are disagreeing, not the American people. With this simple common sense change in the way our federal government functions, it might just do that, function. Like Iowa.



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