indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Mark Trahant: Indian Country needs solution beyond shutdown

Filed Under: Opinion | Politics
More on: 113th, barack obama, democrats, house, mark trahant, ncai, republicans, senate, sequestration, shutdown
   


YouTube: President Obama Delivers a Statement and Answers Questions from the Press

How does this chaos end? A five-word question that is simple and complex. Some answers are easy: Re-open the government, pay the bills already incurred by the United States of America, and move on.

But it's that last clause -- move on -- that is the most complex idea of all. How does a country move on when there is such a division, a deep discord rooted both in ideology and tone? How does Congress move on when it cannot even debate the larger questions? How can there be a resolution that lasts beyond one more fix that only lasts a few weeks?

This is a tough spot for Indian Country. Tribal leaders are hardly part of the conversation, yet tribal citizens feel the direct impact from the political insolvency. So how does this end? That is a particular concern because a legitimate fix ought to do something about the sequester, not just the government shutdown.

I’ll say it again: Ending the government shutdown is not a solution for Indian Country. The temporary spending bills, the Continuing Resolution, from both the House and Senate lock in budget lines that are unacceptable.

Just a few days ago, the National Congress of American Indians released a statement that put this in perspective, calling the sequester “a greater crisis” because those temporary spending bills are based on budgets that represent a decade of budget cuts.

Critical tribal government programs from health care to public safety are clearly losing ground during this back and forth over spending. So much so that the proposed House budget would cut spending in Indian Country another 19 percent.

“The sequester has deeply affected tribal programs: the Indian Health Service, Indian education funding streams, law enforcement, infrastructure programs such as housing and road maintenance, Head Start, and others. These funding commitments serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and are part of the federal government’s trust responsibility to tribal nations,” NCAI said.

In his news conference Tuesday, President Obama said as much. He said the sequester is already “harmful” to the economy and that Democrats have accepted the Republican budget numbers in exchange for government funding. But here’s the rub: Democrats want this budget to be temporary. The more important debate is about long term spending and a budget for the rest of the year.

Some conservatives understand that. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, wrote in The Guardian newspaper: “There is leverage in the sequester, the 2011 law that caps the growth of domestic discretionary and military spending. Many Democrats find those caps smothering. They want them lifted. Republicans fear the unfunded liabilities of the pay-as-you-go entitlement spending that, unchanged, will bring federal spending to 40% of GDP (from 20%) by 2050.”

Norquist suggests “a possible trade: a temporary and limited lifting of the sequester to allow some more spending now, in return for reducing ... unfunded liabilities in the future.”

But the problem is that there is no single Republican position on any of these issues. Even though I don’t agree with the outcome, at least Norquist’s path forward is well thought out. That cannot be said for the other proposals on the table. Some Republicans are still calling for a delay or defunding of the Affordable Care Act. While still others are proposing yet one more super congressional committee to try and find a solution. That proposal would open up the discussion to all sorts of budget cuts, but exclude tax increases. (No surprise there.)

On Tuesday Speaker John Boehner repeated his stance that the president must begin a conversation. He added the line that passing a temporary spending bill would be “unconditional surrender by Republicans.”

But for Indian Country somehow the discussion needs to get off of this temporary spending measure and return to an annual budget. That doesn’t matter who’s talking, Democrats, Republicans or, better, perhaps, voters in the next election.

Mark Trahant is the 20th Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is a journalist, speaker and Twitter poet and is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. Comment on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/IndianCountryAusterity

More from Mark Trahant:
Mark Trahant: Federal shutdown poses risk in Indian Country (9/30)
Mark Trahant: Playing games with Indian Country's funding (9/25)
Mark Trahant: Republicans are willing to destroy IHS system (9/19)
Mark Trahant: Clock ticking for Congress on debt and budget (9/12)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe battles uranium mine (4/18)
Clara Caufield: BIA audits Northern Cheyenne police force (4/18)
10th Circuit affirms conviction for murder of Arapaho man (4/18)
Jay Daniels: Cobell settlement was flawed from beginning (4/18)
Dwanna Robertson: Muscogee Nation returns to homeland (4/18)
Peter d'Errico: Washington team makes colonial invasion (4/18)
Northern Arapaho Tribe receives $157M trust settlement (4/18)
Agua Caliente Band leaseholders seek $7M in tax refunds (4/18)
Oneida Nation sends $11M to county as part of settlement (4/18)
JPR: Klamath Tribes want Congress to approve water deal (4/18)
Judge dismisses Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe election suit (4/18)
ASU News: Navajo students enjoy learning their language (4/18)
Former NFL player jailed for DUI on Salt River Reservation (4/18)
BIA advances off-reservation casino projects in California (4/18)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe reportedly operating casino at net loss (4/18)
Cherokee Nation to break ground on new hotel with casino (4/18)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes not planing to offer poker games (4/18)
Arizona tribes close to $1B mark in gaming revenue sharing (4/18)
Group opposes Catawba Nation casino bid in North Carolina (4/18)
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Governor carries on divisive tactics (4/17)
Navajo president criticizes NIGA for withdrawing from event (4/17)
Crystal Willcuts: NFL trickster speaks with a crooked tongue (4/17)
Opinion: NFL team owner flashes money to defend racial slur (4/17)
Ten reservations account for biggest share of Cobell buyback (4/17)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes megaloads through reservation (4/17)
Indian artists seek more control over popular annual market (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Lynn Valbuena returns to chairman post at San Manuel Band (4/17)
Yale University museum accused of stealing Tlingit artifacts (4/17)
Navajo Nation Council speaker still on leave amid court fight (4/17)
BIA asked to invalidate Shinnecock Nation's new constitution (4/17)
Onondaga Nation is negotiations over tobacco taxation issue (4/17)
Sen. Warren addresses Native American controversy in book (4/17)
Race relations council looking to boost efforts in border town (4/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (4/17)
Opinion: University must eventually eliminate Ute nickname (4/17)
Appeals court in Canada rules for Metis in Indian status caes (4/17)
9th Circuit hears dispute over Redding Rancheria gaming site (4/17)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe set to launch new poker games on May 2 (4/17)
Judge hears arguments in lawsuit against Jamul Band casino (4/17)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks qualify for Class III gaming in Florida (4/17)
Opinion: Gaming interests prepare for next attack on Florida (4/17)
Native Sun News: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.