What is more important today — governing our nation, or wrecking our government and everything that it represents according to our Constitution?
I’m speaking of the government shutdown. Is it right, fair or just? Or is it brinkmanship politics of the most cynical and brutal sort?
In the last election, the citizens of northern Utah placed their faith in Rob Bishop by voting him back into office. How has Bishop rewarded them?
He rewarded them by placing the Republican Party ahead of the people. No, I’m wrong. He rewarded them by placing the interests of an angry minority within the Republican Party above those of the people in the First Congressional District and our state.
Because of the shutdown 40,000 Utahns employed at Hill Air Force Base, the Internal Revenue Service Processing Center at Ogden, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture and in our "Mighty 5" national parks and nine service locations and national forests were furloughed.
To put that into context, it means the city of Roy, population of about 36,000, would be wiped out.
The ripple effect of that lost income means local businesses that rely on these people suffer as well.
Tourism represents $7 billion of Utah’s economy. With our five iconic national parks closed, communities with innkeepers, café and gift shops bordering these parks suffer.
The summer six-day sequestration furloughs affecting roughly 11,000 Hill Air Force Base, Dugway Proving Ground and Tooele Army Depot civilian employees resulted in an estimated 20 percent pay reduction and salary and wage losses of $34 million. Then came this forced shutdown of the government.
"Now, with Christmas just around the corner," a man from Dugway Proving Ground told me, "we don’t know when we will go back to work. This means that our participation in Utah’s economy will be very limited for the foreseeable future." And the families working for these federal agencies are not alone in their suffering.
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides supplemental food and nutrition assistance to 66,000 Utah moms and children. But, because of the shutdown, WIC isn’t able to issue new food and infant formula vouchers or provide nutrition counseling to existing clients. Fortunately, the Department of Agriculture — a department within the government Rob Bishop has helped shut down — was able to provide two weeks’ worth of emergency funding for WIC.
This irresponsible government shutdown by an angry minority of extremist Republicans is also threatening our credibility around the world. China, one of our biggest trading partners, has issued us warnings. What does that say about us when other nations are demanding we get our political and financial houses in order?
Where is Rob Bishop in all of this?
He co-sponsored the Pay our Military Act (H.R. 3210), signed into law Sept. 30 — a stopgap measure made necessary because of the Republican shutdown.
Fundamentally, in return for your faith in voting for him, Rob Bishop has enabled political dysfunction and helped take money out of the wallets of working families, has helped take food away from mothers and children in need and helped make our nation the laughing stock of the world.
Utah needs a forceful, independent-minded advocate and cooperative representative to help govern not gridlock our nation.
That is why I stand before you today as a candidate and leader for the First Congressional District of Utah. I will reward your vote — your faith — by fighting cooperatively for your interests in Washington.
Donna McAleer, a retired Army officer and former executive director of the People’s Health Clinic in Park City, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Rob Bishop in the 2012 election.
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