Some call them the next iteration of the Do-Nothing Congress, but a better moniker for our legislators may actually be the Do-Harm Congress. This week, a small and stubborn group of House members steered the nation into a government shutdown in what is essentially a giant tantrum over the Affordable Care Act—a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, and that will be implemented regardless of whether the government is shut down.
By allowing the government to shut down instead of governing responsibly, Congress could cost our economy up to $2 billion and an untold number of precious jobs. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most vulnerable who will be hurt first and worst: more than eight million pregnant women, young mothers, and infants could be cut off from nutrition assistance, Head Start programs across the country will begin closing their doors today, and almost six million small businesses will lose financial support. All this comes from a desperate and pointless attempt to prevent more than 30 million Americans from getting health care.
It’s no wonder that 80% of Americans are against a government shutdown.
The shutdown is only the latest attempt of the Do-Harm Congress to hold our economy hostage for political gain. In fact, Congress effectively closed its doors on the American people on March 1, when the irrational and arbitrary budget cuts known as sequestration took effect. These massive cuts to vital federal programs such as Head Start, job training, and housing assistance were supposed to be so painful that lawmakers would compromise on a budget deal.
Now, our communities are living with the brutal consequences: closures to Head Start programs, slashed funds for critical housing counseling, and scaled back programs aimed at supporting small businesses. But here in Washington, instead of working to stop the cuts, create jobs, and invest in our future, lawmakers are finding new and ever-more-painful ways to play the blame game while our children and families struggle with less.
Last November, Latino voters came out in force to shape the 2012 election. Moreover, nearly 900,000 Latinos become eligible to vote each year. If those who we elected continue to behave as reckless politicians instead of public servants, we will hold them accountable for their actions. We will not sit by and allow Congress to continue turning their backs on the very people they are elected to represent.