The much-maligned Tea Party, with their fiscal intransigence has received the blame for the impasse. The blame is misplaced. America has more of a political problem than a fiscal problem. If you only have 12% of your budget (non defense discretionary) to adjust you have a political problem. The authors of our safety net lacked foresight. The figures would not hold up. But, the politicians could see no further than the next election. The public, from the mid-sixty’s to the twenty-first century were asleep or drugged in pleasure. So, the people acquiesced to unrealistic and unsustainable legislative generosity which extended beyond the safety net. The public rewarded the popular Congress with near 90% retention rate during much of these fateful years. Now, the politicians most responsible for the fiscal mess are generally dead, but at least well retired. Many are remembered by their names on public buildings all across the country.
What is happening today is symbolic. By mid-week or before the debt-laden federal government will have the lights back on. But, the basic problems have not moved.