Our latest irrelevant distraction: Whose fault if Congress doesn’t fund Homeland Security?
By Marc Jampole
If and when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) loses its funding, will we, the American people, blame the Republicans as we usually do when the federal government or parts of it shut down because of a funding stand-off?
Or will we blame Senate Democrats for not passing the House-approved DHS bill, which contains measures to roll back President Obama’s executive orders regarding immigration?
Will we blame the GOP for trying to link Homeland Security money to keeping the immigration status quo?
Or will we blame the President for announcing new immigration regulations which committed the cardinal capitalist sin of helping average people and not corporations? Or maybe blame him just because he’s Obama and we like to blame our nation’s first Black president whenever possible?
These questions are roiling around the capital as the clock inexorably ticks down towards another imminent deadline for shuttering—at least temporarily—part of the federal government.
You have to hand it to Speaker of the House John Boehner for his ability to breathe new life into the increasingly tiresome shutdown Passion Play that our elected officials have performed these past four years in repertory with that theatre of the absurd that is the House’s Sisyphisian effort to roll back the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. It is sheer brilliance to construct a potential government shutdown that right-wingers are also 100% against.
In fact everyone seems to be against closing DHS. No one is arguing over the contents of the Homeland Security Bill. The tug-of-war between House Republicans and the Senate has been a tight-bristled broom that has swept away any discussion of DHS’s excessive bureaucracy, waste and lack of transparency. There has been no broader discussion of the DHS role in curtailing civil rights, militarizing local police and creating a surveillance state.
Ironically, DHS is probably the federal department that can weather a funding crisis the best. Many of its parts such as the Border Patrol, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration will continue to operate because they provide “essential services.” Much of the rest of the department such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be able to continue operating because they receive at least partial funding through the fees they charge.
In other words, it’s a classic sideshow that our elected politicians and the mainstream news media use to keep our minds off what really matters. Instead of debating issues of civil liberties, security abuses and crony capitalism on the one hand and real immigration reform on the other, we can enjoy a pissing match between two sides that both pretty much like the DHS just fine the way it is. The blame game between political celebrities has once again replaced a rational discussion of the issues.