I poured on the steam yesterday afternoon and finished the Bob Woodward book, The Price of Politics. If you are not a political junkie, or have no interest in budget issues, you probably would find this book b-o-r-i-n-g. However, it is a fair recounting of the federal budget process for the past few years when BOTH sides contributed to the impasse in Washington.
I had followed the budget negotiations closely the past few years so I found nothing terribly new in Woodward’s book. One thing that stuck me once again, however, was the seriousness of the effort Joe Biden and Paul Ryan made as they carried out negotiations concerning budget issues. They carried out this work until they were undercut by Obama and Bohner. The other thing that stuck me once again was the horrible dilemma the country faces budget-wise.
This past week while the Libyan embassy was burning and the general mayhem in the Muslim world occupied most media attention, the Congress met to pass a continuing budget resolution or CR as its known around here.
As a government worker for many years in both the executive and legislative branches, I became acutely aware of the federal budget process. When Clinton and Gingrich shut the government down for three weeks in the 1990s, I fretted more than ever. To calm our nerves, every day for the three weeks we were out of jobs David, who worked for the Patent and Trade Office, and I took enormously long walks through the winter snow with our old dog Max.
When the government shuts down, many government employees, dubiously referred to as “non-essential personnel”, are thrown out of work and receive no pay. So, every year when the Congress sends its appropriation bills to the Senate and then the White House, government workers hold their collective breath.
Yesterday, I spoke with my son Richard, who has been a civilian employee with the Navy for 30 years. He lives in California, and he and I always discuss politics, budgets, and such, of both the US and California.
Both of us expressed relief that once again the federal budget had passed, for at least for six months, until next year when the new Congress and new President will once again negotiate all the same old issues.
David and I had discussed driving down to my daughter’s farm today, but he is in too much pain, so we decided to forego the 2-hours-each-way auto trip and work in the yard instead. That might seem counterintuitive, but the doctors tell us to keep moving. Its the stress of driving and sitting in the car for several hours that kills our joints.
My granddaughter has suggested we should take the train to the little town near their farm, and someone will retrieve us from the station. Some day we just might do that as the Virginia countryside is beautiful and a train ride would be far less stressful. However, as long as we have 3 dogs, that is not possible. Meanwhile, I am not going anywhere for the next two weeks until I leave for CA to visit my son. The moral of this story is get your traveling done before you hit your 70s and 80s. You might be in good health, but your partner may not.
Early morning in the Cotswolds in England. (photo credit – schmidleysscribblins, 1995)