Rich Galen

So, the most important calculation to a Member of Congress (who has to run for re-election every two years) or to a Senator who is "in cycle" (up for election in 2014) is: How will these Shut-Down, ObamaCare, Syria, debt limit, Food Stamp, Student Loan, Medicare, Medicaid, and similar votes be greeted by the "Folks Back Home."

The simple answer is: How they will be greeted by the "Folks Back Home" depends upon whether they put money into, or take money out of, the pockets of the "Folks Back Home" or the parents or children of the "Folks Back Home."

Will ObamaCare let my kid, who happens to be 24 years old with a bachelor's degree in marketing and is currently living (with his/her significant other) in my basement, stay on my health insurance so I don't have to worry about having to turn my 401(k) over to the hospital if, God forbid, he or she is involved in a serious car wreck?

I'm for ObamaCare.

On the other end of the generational telescope, will senior services (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and similar) allow my mom and/or dad live somewhere other than mybasement as their needs become more insistent?

I'm for those.

Am I a student who didn't know that you couldn't discharge student loans through bankruptcy and thus have this "Scarlet SL" branded on my forehead for the whole of my working life?

Cut the interest rate on student loans. Let someone else pay for it.

We could go on and on, but remember how we used to scoff at Sweden's social program that included taking care of its people "from the cradle to the grave?"

Compared to what Americans expect of their government in 2013, Sweden looks like a Charles Dickens' novel based on England in the 1830s.

I don't have a good answer for what will happen as the invisible ball drops from the U.S. Capitol Dome marking the beginning of the New Fiscal Year.

I do know that we blame our elected officials for this but, as Cassius said to Brutus inJulius Caesar (Act I, scene 2):

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves … "

Happy New Year.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The Wikipedia list of calendars and the Library of Congress' list of workdays.

Also a really nice Mullfoto from a trip to Mackinac Island, Michigan a week ago.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at