The parks aren’t Treasury, military or homeland defense. They’re vital, cultural and historic — but they’re not necessary. Thus, they’re shut down and more than 20,000 National Park Service employees — equivalent to the entire population of Oxford — have been furloughed.
The closure of national parks such as Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, along with smaller, lesser-known sites, is doing a number on local economies that depend on tourism dollars. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, in a letter to President Obama earlier this week, said the closing of national parks had been “devastating” to those communities, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Here’s where the convoluted logic comes in.
Unwilling to reopen the parks without a resolution of the budget crisis in Congress, the White House is allowing some national parks to open their doors — but only if the states pick up the tab.
The logic makes your head spin: a shutdown caused by Tea Party extremists in the House is unable to be quickly resolved by the Obama administration, and to ease the strain on tourism-dependent American communities, the White House says the states must pay to reopen the sites.
If that’s the best solution, it’s not much of one.
Granted, some states, such as Utah, are taking advantage of the opportunity and paying for their national parks to reopen. The amount for Utah: $166,000 a day for that state’s five national parks, which Gov. Herbert says will stay open for 10 days on the state dime.
Other states aren’t as eager to fork over state taxpayer money, either because they don’t have it or because they vehemently oppose using state funds to pay for federal sites. A spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead told the AP that “Wyoming cannot bail out the federal government and we cannot use state money to do the work of the federal government.”
Chalk this up as one of the countless examples of how failed leadership of both parties puts everyday America in a bind — and creates solutions that aren’t solutions at all.