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Letter: Negotiation is part of balancing federal budget

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Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:00 am

I read with fascination the recent letter which concluded that Republicans are the genetic inheritors of Neanderthal DNA, which according to the author means Republicans are something-ER-other less than Democrats. This witless argument was repeated so many times; presumably to convince us the author was clever, or perhaps to let us know he read some old copy of Science magazine.

The basis for his third-grade comparison was “the Republicans shut down government, and were criminal, ignorant or stupid” or some combination thereof.

Let’s apply a little logic and some fact. I will go slowly so the author of that letter has a chance of understanding.

Each time a budget is considered and developed at the federal level, there are fights, discussions and negotiations about how much money will be appropriated for the myriad programs and obligations which have been authorized by previous law. Every budget deals with the issue of how much to spend on things; it’s not a short process whereby we fund everything.

For example, when the Army Corps of Engineers’ money is appropriated, the Congress decides how much of the programs it conducts will be funded, not how fast to fund everything. Thus, the “battle” over funding Obamacare was just one of innumerable fights over how much funding will be authorized. This is how it works every time.

In this instance, the Republicans didn’t want to fund any Obamacare, and the Democrats wanted to fund it all. Disagreement, not irrational positions.

During the fight, one side said, “We won’t fund something but we will fund other things.” The other side said, “We won’t negotiate anything any time; you must fund everything.” Now the former position is what occurred in the last 200 years of budget battles and the latter is what has never occurred before — ever. The result: Those who advocated negotiating how much to spend were accused of shutting down the government, but the people who said “no negotiating” weren’t.

Now, we weren’t suddenly transported into the Bizarro World, but “yes” the side who advocated negotiation was labeled “unreasonable” and “ignorant.” Keen analysis, nez pas?

Actually, every day the government is shut down is one less day of mischief.

John Herrick


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