Vince Wheeler: Shutdown is a distraction

Oct. 09, 2013 @ 06:24 PM

The latest on the federal government shutdown Wednesday — as of this writing — makes me think maybe some kind of compromise to restart the machine might be brewing. Wednesday morning, President Obama and leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress were making noise about engaging in talks at the White House.
Of course, the president is still demanding that House Republicans send him a bill that ends the shutdown and raises the national debt limit. And of course, many House Republicans still are demanding concessions on debt reduction and health-care funding before agreeing to anything that would restart parts of the government that have ground to a halt.
I don’t believe anyone who knows me will paint me as a member of the “liberal media,” but I’m thinking this GOP strategy to bash Obamacare and shut down the government is backfiring. It seems a lot of people are not too thrilled about this government shutdown.
A poll released Wednesday by The Associated Press-GfK (GfK is a public relations firm teaming up with the AP to conduct polling) said 62 percent of respondents mainly blamed Republicans. That’s not positive PR for the GOP. However, the survey also found that almost half of those surveyed felt Obama and congressional Democrats bear much of the responsibility. In other words, lots of folks aren’t happy with everybody involved.
But back to the GOP. I’m thinking the strategy of those in Congress trying to defund Obamacare was a mistake and mostly a waste of time. There’s nothing wrong with slamming Obamacare some. But the show went on too long since they really couldn’t win. And then came the shutdown and wrangling over the debt ceiling.
I know Obama is being stubborn here, too. But he actually has the upper hand in all this, and really is in a position to set parameters for discussions with GOP leaders. So, I’m thinking House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans need to focus on working with Obama to end the shutdown before the GOP camp loses too many moderates and independents.
What bugs me most about all this is that the real issue is too much federal government spending and control in too many areas of our lives. Simply causing a temporary shutdown isn’t going to solve those issues or save money in the long-run, and a shutdown distracts from efforts to limit spending and control.
I’m thinking the federal government needs to be running in order for us to see what we must do to fix its fiscal woes. And the sooner the wheels of government roll, the sooner the nation can focus again on that task.

vwheeler@hpe.com | 888-3517