The Edmond Sun

October 28, 2013

Restoring trust, confidence in government are essential

Phil Busey
Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — The shutdown of the government and the threat not to raise the debt ceiling is serious. It emphasizes a dysfunctional Congress. Importantly, the actions of legislators have eroded a cornerstone of our democracy. The trust between the people and those elected to lead.

The irresponsible actions of a few, principally the tea party caucus in the House, cast a long shadow over our nation. It was what George Washington warned of at the end of his presidency. A few within government being able to control the rest.

To hold branches of government hostage over an issue is a dangerous practice. It makes you wonder if the legislators carrying out this ill-founded strategy understand the ramifications, care or have the experience to legislate.

This is no way to govern. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater makes no sense. The grand old Republic party brand has been torn.

The Democrats and administration did not fare much better. The people are waiting for decisive leadership and compromise. It is so discouraging when legislators seem so out of touch.  

One Republican congressman suggested furloughed workers obtain loans from their financial institution to cover the short term. Another Democrat complained after the shutdown there were no employees in the congressional gym to provide towels, etc. This is unbelievable from those who are expected to understand their responsibilities and impacts of their actions on the American people as a whole.

There were no winners in this debacle. Not Congress or the president. Only losers. Foremost, the American people.

It is unfathomable the elected would play a high-stakes game ignoring lasting negative impacts on the economy, individuals, families, businesses and the image of the nation.

Obamacare has significant problems and needs change, but it is law.

Work to amend or replace it legislatively and offer solutions.

Fighting over the debt ceiling, some in Congress were oblivious to the 14th Amendment, Section 4, which holds the public debt and its validity shall not be questioned. The debt ceiling is not about creating new debt. It is about paying bills Congress already racked up. We agree the debt of the U.S. is too high but control it by a reasonable budget process. There now is a window, though a short one, to fix it. Nothing will get done if partisanship is not put aside.

Do our leaders really understand the effects of playing politics with the shutdown and an 11-hour deal? Some may not. Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), says he will do it again. Reckless, this rhetoric only fuels the partisan divide that gridlocks government. Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It is time to restore trust and work together.

Businesses are outraged. The economy set back. According to S&P, losses exceed $24 billion. Fitch threatened a downgrade of the country’s AAA credit rating largely due to failure to govern in Washington.

A short-term solution means wait and see what’s next. Uncertainty is not good for business or consumer confidence. Particularly for retailers with the biggest season of the year approaching.    

Businesses will throttle investment, expansion and job creation. The hurt goes deep as Oklahoma was impacted. In the defense industry here alone, thousands were furloughed and some contracts put on hold.

Individuals had to file for unemployment and decide which bills to pay or not. Some furloughed civilians under contract were only able to return to work over a week after the government was turned on.

The negative financial impact rippled through the state. From veterans to small businesses, to persons needing assistance to live.

Small businesses particularly will feel the pinch. Lost dollars will not be recovered.    

Yet, in the end, only one congressman from Oklahoma, Tom Cole, had the courage to vote yes to reopen the government and end the fiasco.

People have lost faith and many feel betrayed by the elected. We are not pawns in a political game as governing by crisis fails.  

Restoring trust and confidence are essential to the continued greatness of America. Congress and the president must rise to the occasion and end partisanship.

Another shutdown needs to be off the table. We have been to the abyss once too often.  

The American people deserve better and there is too much at risk. If lawmakers say they stand on principal on behalf of the people, then govern wisely for all.

They will work together; they have one last chance.


PHIL BUSEY is chairman and CEO of The Busey Group of Companies in Oklahoma City.