Editorial — Shutdown show downWhy everyone should root for the government to keep running
In a few days' time the federal government will run out of money. Without a spending bill from Congress, the government will be forced to shut down non-essential operations — millions of workers will be furloughed, loans won't get processed, Social Security checks won't be mailed. In the last two years we've seen a few shutdown threats loom, only for a last-minute compromise to be reached. We doubt that will happen this time.
There are several reasons this government shutdown will likely happen, starting with the two parties' starting positions. The last few near-shutdowns started in a very different place from this one. The Republicans were demanding spending cuts and entitlement reforms, while the Democrats sought revenue increases and protection of popular social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
The two sides seemed to be far apart initially, but the Republicans did not put out many specifics on what they wanted to cut. This allowed the Democrats to propose some spending cuts with some revenue. The negotiations went from there until a compromise was reached.
This time is different. The Republicans are very specific — defund the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, or we will force a government shutdown. This leaves little negotiating room for the Democrats, who under no circumstances will dismantle their party's signature legislative accomplishment of this administration. There does not seem to be any room to begin a dialogue.
On top of the very divergent starting positions between the two parties, the Republicans in the House of Representatives seem eager to push the government into shutdown. In the first few shutdown crises, the Republicans told Americans that they were holding the establishment's feet to the fire to bring down the deficit. Many rightly cheered these efforts, and it worked. The yearly deficit has been slashed in half and it is projected to continue to fall as the economy grows.
Without the deficit cause to rally around, the Republicans have seized on Obamacare as the reason to force a government shutdown. This change in focus from deficit — a budgetary concern — to health care reform should cause everyone, not just liberals or Democrats, some pause.
Let's start with the Affordable Care Act itself, which is far from perfect. It is a health care reform first proposed by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in the 1990s and used by Mitt Romney to overhaul the health care system in Massachusetts. It was used as the foundation for Obamacare, which was passed by both Congressional chambers, signed by the president, who was recently re-elected, and upheld by the Supreme Court.
Now, in exchange for funding government operations, the Republicans are trying to defund the implementation of this law.
Imagine the opposite scenario: A Republican president signs a historic piece of conservative legislation that is later upheld by the Supreme Court, but the Democrats hate it. They hate it so much that they threaten to shut down the government until the president undoes that law. Would you want him or her to cave in to such a demand? If not, then you should hope the Republicans don't get their way this time.
In Washington, like in a court room, they run on precedent. If it works once, it will be tried again, and again, and again. And next time the target might not be something you hate, but something you wholeheartedly support.
Our government was set up to work in a specific way. If your party is elected to the majority it can pass laws. Those laws need the support of the President and finally must survive a review by the Supreme Court. What the Republicans are trying to do is break this system. They could not convince voters in the last election to support them so they could dismantle Obamacare. Instead they are pushing ahead with a strategy that would render our court and election system moot — as Americans we should be against that.
Courier Publications changes size
Faithful readers may have noticed something different about the look or feel of their newspapers this week.
Courier Publications' three weekly newspapers, The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal, have changed in size beginning Sept. 26.
The change was driven, in part, by a shift in the newspaper industry and necessitated by our printer, which prints not only our publications, but other newspapers across the state. Several other newspapers in the state have made a similar change with a small reduction in the width of their pages, and this is becoming an industry standard as the Lewiston Sun Journal, Bangor Daily News, The Times-Record in Brunswick, and now Courier Publications have adopted this new, more cost-effective size or plan to in the near future.
The efficiency this size brings will also help Courier newspapers keep subscription and newsstand prices static as well as allow us not to increase the cost we charge our advertisers as we move into the final quarter of the year.
What has not changed is our commitment to our content. We will still deliver all of the weekly news, editorials, letters, obituaries, sports, arts and entertainment and classifieds our readers have come to expect with the commitment that we will continue to grow and serve our communities with more, not less, in the future.
We thank the readers for their continued support of Courier newspapers and VillageSoup online.