Negotiations all Around: Updated

Note to Readers: The updated sections are in bold.

As I write this, April 7 in the AM, there has not been budget deal made by Congress and President Obama.  The federal government will shut down on April 9 if a deal isn’t reached.  I’d been reading that they’ve put this off until now by passing temporary spending measures, but the President has said he won’t sign another such bill.  That’s fine–they can’t put off long term planning forever.  It was interesting, though, to read that Congress was supposed to pass the 2011 bill in 2010.  They’ve had that long to do it, but they failed to get it done.

I’m not worried that they haven’t passed a bill yet for two reasons, and only one of them is selfish.  One, I see the logic of each side holding out as long as possible to get the best deal they can.  Two, I’m not a federal employee.  (By the way, I’m not making light of the employees’ situation so much as I am realizing something about my own selfish nature.)

A shutdown would be inconvenient for DC tourists, but if it does happen and they and the government workers start making noise, the politicians will work it out pretty quickly.  And last time a bunch of the workers got back pay for the time they lost.

As I write this, it is Friday morning, and there is still no settlement.  I’m not feeling quite as cavalier today as I was yesterday.  Some of my students pointed out to me a few things I didn’t know.  Military personnel aren’t getting paid if there is a shutdown, and people like park service employees are out of work, too–it doesn’t just affect Washington.  The idea that our soldiers and sailors won’t get paid–but Congress will–is outrageous.  I read this morning that Republicans in the House of Representatives have initiated a bill to provide funding for the troops even without a federal budget bill.  I hope if it comes down to it, that our government could at least get this done.

In the end, I wish politicians would stick to their principles on moral issues (more accurately, I wish they would stick to my principles, but what can you do?).  On financial matters, I wish they would seek legitimate compromises without all the posturing.  The big problem comes of course when people look at financial issues from a moral perspective.  This is not illogical, but it does make it tougher to come to a middle ground.

Meanwhile, we see that it isn’t just the politicians who are arguing.  The NFL is in a lockout, and the NBA has one coming in June.  In the NFL there is a concern that some games might not be played in September.  There are people saying that the National Basketball Association might miss a full season.  The NFL is hugely popular in America, but my favorite team is in the NBA–the Washington Wizards.   I hope neither league has to cancel games, but when there is an argument over money between billionaires and millionaires, it is hard for me to feel much sympathy for either side.

I wonder if we polled Americans on which settlement they wanted to see first, which one would get the most votes.  I think the NBA would finish third, but between the other two, it might be a toss up.