Shimkus fails to mention his vote in support of government shutdown

Shimkus fails to mention his vote in support of government shutdown

By Eric Thorsland

The guest commentary from Rep. John Shimkus in the Oct. 20 edition of The News-Gazette deserves a second look. At first pass Mr. Shimkus seems to want to get ahead of the continued negative press generated by the government shutdown and deny his actual role in the debacle. Explaining his vote to end the shutdown, he neglects to mention that he, along with others in the radical extremist wing of the Republican Party, actually voted in support of it.

Mr. Shimkus then goes on to say that the fight now upon us is "bigger than the fight over Obamacare," which is actually called the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If he was willing to shut down government over the ACA, what will he do next? Since that tea party fiasco cost the country more than $24 billion, what will be the cost for our country should he and his allies dig in again in January?

Mr. Shimkus' explanation of federal government spending is oversimplified at best and relies on scare tactics to paint an inaccurate picture about the budget and the future of the Social Security Trust Fund.

Some real percentages of total spending from the proposed 2014 budget are appropriate here. Social Security is 34 percent of total spending, including unemployment and associated expenses. With a few simple changes, such as raising the income cut-off for Social Security contributions, the Social Security Trust Fund can be made completely solvent for decades. This would amount to a larger contribution to the fund from high wage earners, whom Congressman Shimkus always favors over middle and lower income earners.

Medicine and health is the next largest portion of the federal budget at 24 percent. These costs could have been lowered already if Congressman Shimkus had not voted against a bill allowing the government to negotiate lower prescription drug costs. The government is a huge purchaser of prescription drugs, yet he felt we should not use that leverage to reduce costs. Instead, Shimkus would rather publicly complain about the cost and use it as a political point.

Defense spending, at 18 percent, is the next largest slice of the federal budget. Defense spending is important; knowing our readiness to act in Syria probably deterred the Syrian government from further chemical weapons use. And defense spending will decline as we wind down operations in Afghanistan, allowing our soldiers to regroup and strengthen.

After that, the percentages for other budget items are in the single digits. The dreaded interest and debt payments only total 7 percent, the crisis Mr. Shimkus decries as our next big fight.

Congressman Shimkus voted to shut down the government, needlessly hurting his constituents and millions of other Americans. Only time will tell if he repeats that mistake, but clearly he has no qualms about using this tactic. And that was over an issue which he freely admits is not the biggest worry on his mind. We can only wonder if he will continue to use ransom threats that ultimately harm the people he represents as a bullying tactic to hold the nation hostage in exchange for budget reductions that ultimately do nothing to advance the well-being of Illinois' 15th District and America's future.

Eric Thorsland, of rural Mahomet, research engineer at the University of Illinois and current chairman of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals, is running as a Democrat in the Illinois 15th Congressional District.

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bluegrass wrote on October 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Eric can rant about ransom threats until the cows come home, but that doesn't make what he is saying true.  The House passed a Continuing Resolution that funded the entirety of the government, except Obamacare, and the Senate rejected it.  The Senate actually voted to shut down the government.  The House voted to fund the government.

Using words like 'ransom' and 'hostage' and 'bullying' just builds on this false narrative that left wing Obamacare truthers love to put forth constantly, that if you do anything they disagree with, you actually are supporting starving children, beating the elderly, and killing puppy dogs.  It's a joke.  The only thing that happened when the government was "shut down," is that despite all the Oliver Twist claims that dirty, zombie-like children would be roaming the streets begging for a loaf of bread, the reality is a few people here locally got about a week of paid vacation.  And what were the republicans fighting for in the end?  What this issue that was so important, that the democrats were willing to shut down 17% of the government over?  A one year reprise from the individual mandate, which is exactly what many of them are calling for now.  

STM wrote on October 28, 2013 at 6:10 am

"Left" this and "Left" that.  I didn't know we had broken records in this age of the mp3.  Blue, do you even read what you type?  

"The House passed a Continuing Resolution that funded the entirety of the government, except Obamacare"

If I paid all my bills except my mortgage, I'd still be on the street.

We have a gerrymandered House, pandering to their brainwashed base by picking and choosing which government programs they wish to fund.  Trust me (you won't) the Senate saw bad precedent here.  Voting down this ridiculous abuse of governance was the only sane response.

The shutdown was a House action and, more specifically, TeaParty Republican initiated.  The party of "personal responsibility" wouldn't recognize personal responsibilty if it bit them on the butt.

bluegrass wrote on October 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

What you call a "ridiculous abuse of governance," other people call governance under separation of powers.  You know, that old document that every single elected official in the federal government must swear to uphold and defend?  That old chestnut.  

STM wrote on October 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

No, it was ridiculous.  and this is not governance under separation of powers.  Regarding that separation of powers, the ACA has been tested through the legislative (43 times and counting in the House), judicial, and the executive branch. There are constitutional remedies to unfavorable legislation.  Holding up the daily business of government is not one of them.  The ACA is an act of congress. Congress is obligated to fund it just as they would fund other constitutionally passed acts. You're just married to an untenable position.