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home : opinion : opinion August 20, 2014

10/14/2013 10:22:00 AM
Editorial GOP Congress stirs memory of old friend

I had an old friend and fellow veteran who died a few years ago. I think of him whenever I hear the arguments in Congress about social programs and economic development. In addition to being a great friend, he was a husband, father, businessman and inventor.

My friend worked hard at developing his business when he was young and became quite successful. He and his wife had a beautiful home where they raised four children. They enjoyed an affluent lifestyle that included dining at fine restaurants and drinking fine wines.

Despite his success, he was not satisfied. He wanted to be even more successful. His wife was happy with their situation in life and wanted to just preserve and enjoy it. She argued for responsible spending on the care and mutual needs of the family. He argued for using their income and assets to build for an even better future.

My friend started putting off creditors so that he could use the money to fund an invention he was sure would bring more prosperity for the family. In the end, they lost their home and were divorced. My friend could never believe it was his fault. He died convinced that if they had just stuck it out, they would have been successful.

Husbands and wives often disagree on spending priorities. Successful couples compromise and commit to a mutually satisfying outcome. Those who refuse to compromise or who force their position on their spouse usually end up divorced. You can't be a successful couple if you agree together on a priority and then one of you decides unilaterally not to invest either the money or the effort into the commitment.

If a family decides to buy a house, a car, an insurance policy or a boat, once they make the decision and act on it, I think everyone would agree that to then decide not to make payments is irresponsible, even if the point of the individual deciding not to make the payment is that the individual thinks there is a need to adjust the budget.

That kind of disagreement took place in my friend's home.

That is the same kind of argument that is currently taking place in Congress.

Congress has control of spending decisions. The president is responsible for writing the checks. He has the authority to veto a spending decision, a veto Congress can override, but he otherwise has the obligation to write the checks for whatever Congress has authorized.

Right now, an aggressive minority in Congress wants to refuse payments for commitments that Congress has previously made. They argue that the President is responsible, which is nonsense since he can't make such commitments unilaterally, and want him to agree to void those commitments before they will allow payments the government owes to be made. Their refusal to act responsibly has led to the shut down of the federal government and threatens the financial stability of our nation, just as the refusal of a spouse to make family payment commitments threatens the financial stability of a family.

Members of Congress, who have not offered any alternative ways to meet the commitments to which they object, want the president to agree to budget changes which he has no authority to make, before they will allow the government to make the payments it is legally obligated to make.

The President has said, "No!"

He is absolutely right in doing so. Congress has the authority, in fact it has the responsibility and obligation, to get to work on legislation to achieve a responsible plan for government spending. Congress should get government workers back to work and then it should get to work on whatever legislative changes it decides are necessary.

Nations, like families, can fall apart when the people involved cannot see beyond their selfish needs and recognize their mutual need to cooperate. I hope members of Congress won't bring an end to our nation such as my friend brought to his family.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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