The longer the government shutdown drags on, the more discerning the American people need to be on the political posturing coming out of the White House and on Capitol Hill.
With the nation entering week two of the shutdown, we've been hearing major Democratic players like President Obama, Senate leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi telling us they're willing reach out and find common ground with Republicans.
Their actions in the budget stalemate don't support their claims.
Last week, the U.S. House voted to continue funding the National Institutes of Health, which shut down care for many child cancer patients. It also passed spending bills that would fund the District of Columbia and the National Park Service. This makes sense since these are areas where this seems to be bipartisan agreement and they have an affect on average Americans.
National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the parks depend on congressional appropriations to stay open and that the World War II memorial was closed because of an order to close all park service grounds to protect the sites and keep visitors safe while workers are furloughed.
Blocking our open air memorials on the Washington Mall struck a nerve with many Americans, especially since World War II veterans on Honor Flights were being denied access. The parks funding bill passed in the House by a 252-173 vote, and had the support of 23 Democrats, but Senate Democrats refused to even consider the bill and the barricades remain up.
Led by their concerned congressmen, however, last week's veterans went through the barriers. It appears Democrats are using our national parks as political chips by employing this self-serving 'my way or the highway' mentality.
The Republican National Committee offered to pay security expenses so the World War II Memorial could remain open for visitors during the shutdown. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus said the GOP has set aside funds to hire five security guards for the memorial but that Democrats refused to even vote on that offer, calling it a stunt.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California and Rep. John Mica of Florida Fla. wrote to National Park Service Director, protesting the agency's allocation of funding to shut down monuments. Their letter pointed out that during the last budget crisis, "the committee uncovered evidence that NPS's budgetary decisions were designed to intentionally cause the most disruption to the public in a time of reduced funding."
The park closings also have a devastating impact on local economies. The National Parks Conservation Association in Washington said communities near the parks could lose as much as $30 million per day as long as the shutdown continues.
Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker is one state executive who refused to follow Washington's order to close several of his state parks that receive federal funding. Wisconsin provides more than half of the parks' funding, so they can be kept open with state money.
And then there's the tyrant of the Senate, Harry Reid, who showed his true colors after the House voted to continue funding the National Institutes of Health, which has shut down care for many child cancer patients. When pressed by a reporter on why the Senate wouldn't consider the NIH bill, Reid shot back that it was an incomplete way to fund the government.
"If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?" the reporter asked.
"Why would we want to do that?" Reid shot back. "I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own."
There's something wrong when a Washington politician, the leader of the Senate no less, has trouble understanding why people would want to help one child with cancer while he and his comrades in the White House and Senate play political roulette with the country.
By Jim Zbick