Open Letter to Congress: 2013-10-01 Government Shutdown

TO: All Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate

CC: All Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate; President Barack Obama

As an American, I am disappointed. This government shutdown was entirely avoidable and unnecessary. No matter how bad or how expensive ObamaCare is, allowing ObamaCare to be linked to the shutdown was not a good tactic. At this point, while the shutdown makes all of Congress look bad, the Republican Party is unfairly taking the majority of the blame due to this association, despite the obstructionist tactics of the Democrats and the President.

I agree that ObamaCare should not be allowed to continue as it is. It needs to be updated, dismantled, changed, defunded, or whatever makes the most sense. However, this should be done as part of a much larger discussion on fiscal reform in general. Fiscal irresponsibility is the illness afflicting this nation and expensive programs (such as ObamaCare) are the symptoms.

ObamaCare is an incredibly expensive bill. I know because I have watched my health benefits (along with countless other Americans’ benefits) shrink in order to pay for it. If it wasn’t so costly, why did so many Americans need to be directly or indirectly taxed to pay for it? And yes, any time the government passes a law that increases government funds at the expense of the citizens’ funds, that is a tax. That is where the Republicans in congress have lost focus and is why the Democrats are laying most of the blame at your feet.

What needs to be done now (and should have been done earlier) is quite simple.

First, no matter how bad ObamaCare is, remove nearly all mentions of ObamaCare from all talking points and all negotiations. The only acceptable mention I see is as an example of an expensive government program (of which ObamaCare, onerous as it may be, is but one of many).

Second, focus entirely on fiscal responsibility. Specifically, I would offer to fund the government with only one condition: No debt ceiling increase. Ideally it would be nice to require the debt to decrease, but sadly that’s not likely to get agreement from those who are all too eager to spend.

This turns the tables completely. The focus now shifts squarely to any Democrats who are trying for some incomprehensible reason to spend us into bankruptcy. How can anyone justify increasing deficit spending when we are already so deep in debt? As I’ve often heard said, “The first rule of holes is this: When you find yourself in one, stop digging.” Congress needs to sit down around the American kitchen table and separate the needs from the wants. Then, regardless of how fond anyone may be of the wants, some of them need to be cut.

Increasing income is the only other way to pay for wants, but I (and many other Americans) question the logic of raising taxes just to pay for wants (which are already determined to be unnecessary). For the good of those most affected by this shutdown (as well as your own political futures), please shift focus to the primary issue of fiscal responsibility and allow the government to resume operations.


Carl Bohman
1st Congressional District of Virginia