The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


September 24, 2013

Postcards from the edge: Dysfunction junction strikes again

There is a quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that seems particularly applicable when you consider the news coming out of Washington these days.

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Once again Congress finds itself at loggerheads with the president and threatening to shut down the government. Once again, Congress is proving that the Capitol sits not at the corner of East Capitol Street Northeast and First, but rather at Dysfunction Junction.

We have seen this movie before. It is a familiar plot. Congress and the president bicker and banter, hurling threats and criticism, as the deadline for a shutdown nears. There are angry speeches and finger-pointing press conferences. Blame rains down like fall leaves. Finally, at the 11th hour, a temporary funding compromise is cobbled together and the day is saved — at least for a few weeks until the brinksmanship begins again. There are more sequels to this movie than “Die Hard.”

This time, one of the sticking points is the Affordable Care Act. Last week, the House passed a spending plan that cut all funding for the ACA. That measure will go to the Senate this week, where it is expected to fail.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats are then expected to strip the Affordable Care Act de-funding out of the spending bill and send it back to the house. Then both houses will be fighting the Oct. 1 deadline to get something passed and avoid the shutdown, prospects for which are even less popular than the Affordable Care Act.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in fact, vows to speak out against the Affordable Care Act until he’s “no longer able to stand,” a condition which could be treated under the ACA. Of course, senators and representatives have government health insurance, so they don’t have to worry.

But Republicans are seeking other spending cuts in any new agreement, like increased premiums for upper-income Medicare beneficiaries, higher pension contributions for government workers, limits on medical malpractice verdicts and lower payments to hospitals that treat more poor people than the average.

Should the shutdown occur, there would be widespread consequences.

Our men and women in uniform, including those serving at Vance Air Force Base, wouldn’t be paid during the shutdown. They would receive IOUs, but you can neither spend nor eat those. Well, you can eat them, but they taste crummy and have zero nutritional value.

Of course, one group of federal employees would continue to be paid — members of Congress.

If there is a shutdown and you want a gun permit, it won’t happen until a new funding bill is passed. You wouldn’t be able to get a federal loan, either. And forget about having your passport application processed.

Federal employees not deemed to work in “critical services” would get some time off without pay, though they would be paid retroactively once the shutdown was over.

All national parks, zoos and museums would be closed. Applications for passports would go unprocessed.

Taxes would continue to be collected, however, and the post office would continue delivering bills and junk mail. Oh, and the Affordable Care Act? Its implementation would not be affected by the shutdown.

And once again, we would look stupid to the world. The nation that is the most powerful on earth and the one with the largest economy can’t figure out how to maintain the flow of cash necessary to grease the wheels of government.

This country has operated without a budget since 2009. That means we’ve been riding this roller-coaster for the past four years.

We have leapt from the shutdown precipice twice before, in late 1995 and early 1996, costing the country $1.4 billion.

So we elect these men and women to go to Washington to represent our interests, and all they do is fight and scrap and play politics while the government teeters on the brink of running out of money. They keep doing it, and we keep re-electing them, and they don’t change, which is Einstein’s very definition of insanity.

So the question looms, who are the insane ones, them or us?

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at

Text Only
  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg David, Goliath at it again in Gaza Strip

    Israel has long seen itself as David, standing firm against a hostile neighborhood full of Goliaths.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • DHS must come up with future plans for NORCE, SORC facilities after they are closed

    NORCE is scheduled to close in August 2015. Currently, 15 residents remain at the facility, awaiting transfer to a private setting, and there also are 60 state employees on the NORCE payroll.

    July 24, 2014

  • Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car

    With temperatures soaring to near or above 100, parents need to know they can’t leave their children alone in a locked vehicle. In 10 minutes, a vehicle’s temperature can climb 19 degrees. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated, according to Safe Kids USA.

    July 23, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-24-2014

    I am beginning to believe that Mellon is the poorest Treasurer we ever had. I would like to be Treasurer. Here would be my policy, and you see if it wouldn’t be the best thing for America:
    Save nothing, have nothing in there. Then Congress and the entire nation could have nothing in view only what they made themselves.
    A Candidate.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg State of the state: Things are not as good as they could be

    Draper wants to split Cali up into six separate states — Silicon Valley, around the San Francisco Bay Area; Central California, including cities like Bakersfield; West California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; South California, including San Diego; North California, centered on Sacramento and Jefferson, in the far northern part of the state.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Voters have decisions to make in August races

    Democrats will have two runoffs to decide. One will be choosing their party’s nominee for state superintendent. Freda Deskin will face John Cox. The winner will face Republican nominee Joy Hofmeister in the November general election.
    The other race is for the party nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Jim Rogers will face Connie Johnson. The winner will face Republican nominee U.S. Rep. James Lankford in November.

    July 22, 2014

  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads