Represent us, please
What will it take for the Kansas congressional delegation to decide enough ordinary constituents have been punished by the federal government partial shutdown -- and then support ending it? We're not sure.
In fact, we're not even sure they're conveying much information about the situation to their constituents. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., has an ObamaCare Doomsday Clock on his website's home page with all zeroes. The clock stopped the same day the insurance exchanges opened for business. He also has feature stories about a federal marriage amendment and defunding the Affordable Care Act. Not a thing about the shutdown, its effect on Kansans, or any offer of assistance to anybody in the First District whose life is disrupted by Congress' refusal to fund operations.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., at least acknowledges a shutdown is taking place. The former Hays resident outlines spending and borrowing trends in a section titled Fight for our Future, but when it comes time to offering a solution, the visitor is redirected to other websites that Moran admits he doesn't necessarily endorse. And while there isn't anything specific for constituents affected by the shutdown, you still can utilize the popular Ask Jerry feature.
One doesn't need to Ask Jerry if anybody in Kansas is being affected by the stalemate in Washington.
More than 1,100 Kansans whose work relies on federal funding were placed on unpaid furloughs last week. The Adjutant General's Department reported idling 263 civilian employees. The Kansas Department of Labor placed 66 on unpaid leave. The Kansas National Guard sent home 772 individuals, although all but five were ordered back to work this week.
With the Federal Aviation Administration in partial shutdown, aircraft registrations cannot be accomplished. And that means aircraft sales cannot be finalized, which threatens the state's entire critical aviation industry during the busiest time of the year for deliveries.
Farmers and livestock producers no longer have access to crucial, timely reports prepared by the National Agriculture Statistics Service. While the price of seed, grain, cattle and fertilizer futures might not be mission-critical for the United States, they are indispensable for many in The Hays Daily News readership area. Even more so than the Conservation Reserve Program subsidies, which are on hold as well. Local farm services provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been shut down, so farmers can't apply for new loans, get payments for any programs they're enrolled in, sign up for programs, or take advantage of new wheat varieties because that work isn't taking place either.
Rep. Huelskamp likely could have been passing along this information, or at least providing assistance of some sort to farmers and ranchers affected, but he was booted off the House Ag Committee late last year.
Other Kansans potentially being affected are those finally able to take their long-awaited vacation, only to find all national parks are closed.
Those attempting to apply for disability benefits with either Social Security or Medicare can expect delays in the paperwork processing. No new patients are being accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health. The CDC is unable to monitor disease outbreaks, just as the flu season is starting.
Low- and moderate-income homebuyers as well as first-time purchasers can expect serious delays in processing mortgage applications. Government-backed loans to small businesses have been suspended, as have multifamily FHA mortgage approvals.
The effects are real, are about to become substantial, yet our delegation is almost cavalier in its indifference.
"I prefer to think about it as just taking a little bit of a break," said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., about the shutdown.
We need to recall that shutdowns of the government, even partial ones, ripple through the economy. As the impasse drags on, the ripples become waves that affect even more segments and individuals. Expect tsunamis if the country loses its ability to borrow via a first-time default.
We also need to remember that the Affordable Care Act does not require congressional approval for funding. It is protected from this very type of political meltdown in the same manner as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
We would encourage our elected officials to focus on ending the impasse by separating the unrelated issues the tea party faction has illogically linked. They need to begin paying attention to how Kansans are being hurt in the process, and figuring out ways to help them.
Them is quickly becoming us.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry