WASHINGTON (April 7) — The long-held Defense Department goal of an all-volunteer armed forces is set to become reality tomorrow as the federal government shuts down and becomes unable to pay its service people fighting in three wars around the world.
“We make it very clear when we sign them up that this man’s army is an all-volunteer army,” said Maj. Gen. Roscoe Tanner. “We want them to know that Americans are more proud than ever that we have the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, and that they’re willing to do it on the cheap.”
“How’s that again?” observed Corp. Matt Michael. “That wasn’t my understanding from the recruiter about what ‘all-volunteer’ meant.”
“Oh, yeah,” countered Tanner. “Look. Look right here, on dictionary.com. It says ‘volunteer — somebody who works without being paid’. It’s kind of like helping out with your church’s potluck supper, except with more landmines.”
“But I lost my leg in Iraq. They’re still paying for my prosthetic limb, right?” asked Michaels.
“We might be able to find you a stick around here somewhere,” Tanner said.
“And we’re not getting our pay? How are we supposed to feed our families back home?” Michaels pressed.
“I suggest they volunteer to help out at a local soup kitchen,” Tanner offered. “I understand the workers there can lick the bowls when everybody’s done.”
As our brave men and women in uniform face the prospect of fighting and dying just for the fun of it until the budget impasse in Washington is resolved, politicians on both sides of the aisle tried to hammer out a compromise to fund the government for the next fiscal year.
Republicans initially wanted the new funding bill to reflect about $33 billion in spending cuts, and the Democrats agreed. The Republicans then thought “gee, that was easy, let’s ask for $40 billion instead.” As President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Wednesday, they appeared close to agreeing on the $40 billion figure, so the GOP jacked up their request to $60 billion.
“I am prepared to stand firm on the $40 billion — no, make that $50 billion — no, make that $60 billion,” Obama told a group of reporters following the meeting.
Boehner, facing pressure from Tea Party conservatives on the right who want to dissolve the federal government entirely and replace it with a Wal-Mart, was visibly stressed by working on an issue that could negatively impact so many Americans.
“We have to be prepared to face some hard times,” a tearful Boehner told a press conference. When reminded that Congress will still be paid in the event of a government shutdown, Boehner collected himself and said, “let me rephrase that — you have to be prepared to face some hard times.”
Rep. Michelle Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite on Capitol Hill, urged Americans to be inspired by the military’s spirit of volunteerism, and ask what they can do for free in order to preserve our great American experiment in democracy.
“Offer to work in a prison that has laid off its guards, offer to serve on a SWAT team if your town’s police force has been dissolved,” Bachmann suggested. “Hop in your SUV for a summer vacation in Afghanistan, where you can help root out the Taliban. And I’d like to see the millions of elderly whose use of Medicare has put us in such a deep hole … I’d like to see these folks volunteer to start feeling better.”
Bachmann even suggested that unpaid helpers could be used to return astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station to earth. Since the next space shuttle launch won’t be possible without a new federal budget in place, the astronauts face being stranded unless an alternate plan for bringing them home can be developed.
“I’ve got an extension ladder in my toolshed, and I think just about all my neighbors do too,” Bachmann said. “If we all pitch in — on Saturday, for example, when we usually get together to neaten up the entrance to our subdivision — I bet we could strap enough ladders together to reach all the way to outer space.”
“It’s this kind of can-do spirit that will get us through the coming elimination of the federal government,” she added.