The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

A Government That is Too Big

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


More and more news reports are surfacing about the overreach by the Obama Administration with regard to the partial government shutdown.  Remember, some 82% of government spending is exempt from the shutdown.  It is the White House that ultimately determines what is essential and stays open and what doesn’t in the federal government.

First a little background.  As many of us know, the Congress and President Obama have not reached agreement on how much to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2014.  As of this writing, the House of Representatives has passed four out of 12 appropriations (spending) bills.  The Senate has passed none.  Since the government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30 and no spending bills have been signed into law, the government is “shut-down” because it doesn’t have funding.

A few spending bills that would open up parts of the government, such as paying our soldiers, providing appropriations to the NIH and the National Parks, have been passed by the House.  The Senate has only voted on one of these bills and that is the “Pay Our Military Act.”  It was signed into law by the President on Sept. 30.

But in reality the Chicago-style chicanery, which is occurring on a daily basis at our national monuments and parks, gives us an insight on a government that has grown too big, has too much power, and allows its leaders to cause harm to its citizens in order to make political points.

It certainly shocked many people to hear Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) answer when he was queried about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) refusing to see new patients for clinical trials, including children with cancer, because of the partial government shutdown.  Senator Reid said he would not allow the Senate to vote on the House bill that would fund the NIH because the House of Representatives had no right to pick or choose who gets funding.  Here is the CNN transcript:

DANA BASH: You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds at least the NIH. Given what you've said, will you at least pass that? And if not, aren't you playing the same political games that Republicans are?

HARRY REID: Listen, Sen. Durbin explained that very well, and he did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did Sen. Schumer. What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded? It's obvious what's going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow. What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed. I don't know what other word I can use. They're obsessed with this Obamacare thing. It's working now and it will continue to work and people will love it more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.

BASH: But if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?

CHUCK SCHUMER: Why put one against the other?

REID: Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is -- to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you're irresponsible and reckless --

BASH: I'm just asking a question."

Of course Congress has already picked and chosen certain items to fund.  They are providing pay to the military during the shutdown.

But here is what is horrifying about this whole discussion.  If ANYTHING should be deemed essential in the federal government, one would think it would be allowing children with cancer having access to clinical trials.  These trials are testing new un-approved therapies and for some patients, they are their only hope for survival if all other therapies have failed.

This whole episode demonstrates what happens when the government is in charge of your healthcare.  Here is the transcript of an interesting conversation that occurred on the Rush Limbaugh show on Friday that should make all Americans pause and think.

RUSH: Here's Tim in San Diego.  Hi, Tim.  Great to have you on the program, sir.  Hello.

CALLER:  …You know, on Tuesday something unprecedented in American history occurred.  The first official United States death panel was convened.  When Harry Reid was asked if he'd be willing to save the life of a single kid with cancer, and his response was, "Why would I do that?"  And in a single pronouncement, heartless Harry and the death panel Democrats denied this kid treatment for cancer, and guess what?  It only took two days after Obamacare was implemented for the death panels to begin.

RUSH:  You know, that is an excellent point.  Kind of like Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, "What difference does it make now?"

CALLER:  Exactly.

RUSH:  What difference it make?  Well, why would I do that?

CALLER:  You know, the essence of a death panel is a person weighing somebody's life against other priorities, and Harry Reid weighed the life of the kid with cancer and he said, "I have 1,100 people sitting at home, and they have problems, too."

RUSH:  This is a great point.  Folks, look at all this piecemeal stuff. Obama: you can't open that park, you can't do that, can't go there, can't go to your memorial, we're not gonna open the Grand Canyon.  And these people are running health care?  Is that really what we want, people willing to cherry-pick day to day what's gonna be open and what isn't, based on their desire to inconvenience people or harm them. And they are the ones that are gonna run health care?  Is that really what we want?"

It should be a concern to all Americans we have the federal government now overseeing healthcare for millions of Americans where patients can be used as political pawns.

All you need to know is what a park ranger from the National Park Service said regarding the Administration actions on the shutdown: “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation. We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Here are some other examples of a government that is out-of-control:

  1. More than likely you have heard about the government shutting down certain open-air memorials and monuments.  World War II vets visiting Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight would have none of it and with the help from members of Congress, broke through the erected barricades.  The House Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to National Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis asking why certain open-air parks were being barricaded, especially since this did not occur in the 1996 shut-down.
  2. Families at Lake Mead, Nevada are being forced out of their homes because their privately-owned house sits on federal property.
  3. The National Park Service tried to shut down Mt. Vernon, the home of our first president George Washington, until they were told it is privately owned by the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association.  All roads to the home and parking lots are now open. Mt. Vernon provides a good example of a national treasure run by a local and private entity.  Perhaps it is time to turn over many of our national parks to the states in which they are located or to private entities.
  4. Non-active duty Catholic priests were told they could not work, or even volunteer, on military installations for the duration of the shutdown.  On Saturday, Oct 5, the House of Representatives passed a resolution by a vote of 400 to 1 that would allow religious services to take place during the shutdown.  H. Con. Res. 58 recognizes that the performance of religious services and the ministry are protected activities under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The bill is now pending in the Senate.  Let’s see if Senator Reid will allow a vote.  Amazingly, the National Park Service is ready to allow immigration-rights activists exercise their First Amendment rights on the National Mall, although the area is closed officially.
  5. Beaches across the country are being closed and if people enter the site, they are threatened with a fine.  You can read about some of the beach closures here, here, and here.  Of course, it takes manpower to keep the beaches closed and many of these beaches are usually “open” in the evenings or after Labor Day, there are just no life-guards around.
  6. The Amber Alert website was taken down for a few hours. (The Amber Alert system was still working.) Of course, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” website was left running.  No doubt due to public pressure and negative press reports, the Obama administration decided to put the Amber Alert site back on line.
  7. We are beginning to see episodes of civil disobedience.  One example is found with Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The National Park Service has ordered the inn keeper to shut down and threatened him with his lease, even though the parkway is open to traffic.  The inn keeper is trying to stand up to Big Government but as of this writing, the entry-way to the inn has been blocked.
  8. The Competitive Enterprise Institute writes on their blog how many private businesses are being forced to be shut down, while most federal spending continues.  The businesses are situated on leased federal land and receive no government funding.  The businesses also said during the last government shutdown in 1996, their businesses were allowed to remain open.

Keep in mind, all furloughed employees will get their salary in back pay, but private businesses and their employees will lose money, for good.  There is some question if the forced-shutdown of private businesses is legal.  No doubt lawsuits will be filed.

There are plenty of examples where federal facilities remain open while others remain closed.  Fox news provided a list of examples of federal facilities or programs that are open during the shutdown, which might have a tough time justifying their essentialness.  Stars and Stripes also provided an interesting list of closed/not closed federal facilities.  This list points out incidences in which if a government facility or program is funded through user fees, they remain open.

The Obama Administration, ever ready to spend more federal dollars on more government programs even though the debt is near a shocking $17 trillion, is refusing to negotiate with the House on the spending bills. How this all ends up remains to be seen but surely the American are not going to put up with the continued vindictive behavior by government officials.

Sadly, if even this current spending fight gets solved within the next few days, the Congress and the president will have to negotiate raising the debt ceiling that would allow the government to borrow more money to pay its bills.  The House will want some sort of off-set for allowing that to happen. President Obama will fight that as well.

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