Obama makes federal shutdown worse out of spite

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The presidency is a "bully pulpit," said Teddy Roosevelt.

"For Roosevelt, 'bully' was an adjective meaning 'excellent' or 'first-rate' -- not the noun 'bully' ('a blustering browbeating person') that's so common today," the Merriam-Webster dictionary explains.

For Barack Obama, "bully" has the more common meaning.

The dirty little secret about the government "shutdown" is that not very much of it is shut down. Essential services go on. Checks for Social Security and Medicare go out as usual.

Spending is cut about 17 percent during the "shutdown." If it were to last a full year, spending would be cut from $3.6 trillion to about $2.9 trillion -- which is what the government spent the year before Mr. Obama became president.

Few Americans are hurt. Primarily impacted are the roughly 800,000 federal employees deemed "nonessential," who've been put on unpaid leave. But they'll get back pay once the "shutdown" ends.

To make the reality of the "shutdown" comport with his apocalyptic rhetoric, President Obama is inflicting as much pain as he can on ordinary Americans.

He's ordered all national parks closed -- including more than 100 privately staffed parks that make money for the government.

It's one thing to close a park for lack of staff, to prevent injury to visitors or damage to the property. It's quite another to spend more money to prevent people from viewing monuments when neither the people nor the monuments are at risk.

*When Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times asked a Park Service ranger why the Park Service tried to block access to George Washington's home -- which is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, not the government -- the ranger replied: "We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It's disgusting."

*Park Police physically removed patrons and staff from the privately managed Claude Moore Colonial Farm, which sits on federal land but hasn't taken a dime of federal money since 1980.

*On the National Mall in Washington D.C., rangers blocked access to and shooed visitors away from the monuments and memorials.

*In South Dakota, the Park Service tried to block off highway viewing areas of Mt. Rushmore.

*In Nevada, people who own homes on federal land near Lake Mead have been denied access to them.

*In Florida, the Park Service declared 1,100 square miles of ocean off limits to fishermen.

*In North Carolina, Park Police blocked access to the privately managed Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, putting 100 people out of work. Throughout the country, thousands have been thrown out of work in privately owned inns, restaurants and marinas on federal land.

It is senseless to close profit-making businesses unaffected by the budget dispute in Washington, which is why nothing like this was ever done during the 17 previous "shutdowns" since 1977.

That so many Park police are available to bully law abiding Americans suggests there are quite a few more "nonessential" employees who ought to have been furloughed.

The president has considerable latitude in determining what is "essential" and what isn't. Mr. Obama's choices make it clear he's acting out of spite.

*The commissaries (grocery stores) on military bases have been closed, but the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base where Mr. Obama often plays is open. So is the presidential retreat at Camp David.

*Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tacitly admitted the furloughs last week of DoD civilians were for show when he announced Saturday most of the workers would be recalled.

The Republican-controlled House has passed eight bills so far to fund portions of the government, including all the national parks, but the Democrat-controlled Senate has refused to pass any of them.

For the GOP to propose funding the government "piecemeal" is "blackmail," CNN's Candy Crowley said Sunday.

She either doesn't know -- or doesn't want you to know -- that prior to Barack Obama's presidency, it was the well-established practice of Congress to fund the government in 13 different appropriations bills, each dealing with particular subject areas, so they could be properly scrutinized.

Never before has a president deliberately tried to hurt Americans.

That's a story the news media should cover, not cover up.

Barack Obama is a petulant thug.

To make the sequester seem more painful than it is, he canceled White House tours (but continued to spend lavishly on himself), and ordered the FAA to delay flights.

His stormtrooper tactics backfired then. They're backfiring again now.

Jack Kelly writes for The Pittsburgh Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published October 8, 2013 12:21 PM


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