With all the hand-wringing over the idea of a “government shutdown,” lost is whether this is Armageddon or a little breath of fresh air truth.
First of all, let’s discard the political fears that Republicans will be blamed for the shutdown. Of course they will. Even before the media lost their minds 2017 style, the mainstream, partisan Democrat media was going to blame Republicans like they did in 2013 and in 1995 and 1996 — the three largest profile government shutdowns when Democrats had the White House. It’s not like they are going to blame their own party.
So then the question becomes: Is such a shutdown a terrible event — as all Democrats, most Washington Republicans and the media say it is? No. Not at all. In fact, it could be downright educational for Americans to see that “non-essential” government employees and programs may also be classified as unnecessary. So perhaps it could be inspirational for Congress.
Because unlike the 2013 shutdown when Americans were not noticing any difference in life and requiring President Obama to manufacture pain in closing open-air, unguarded monuments and parks, President Trump will take no such harmful actions.
So let’s walk through briefly how this could work.
What really is a government shutdown?
A federal government shutdown happens when Congress and the president cannot agree on the 12 appropriations bills required for each federal agency. Typically, to avoid a shutdown and the public appearances of it, Congress and the president create an extension called a continuing resolution (CR). The idea is that this temporary funding mechanism can allow time for Congress and the President to reach a spending agreement.
In fact, many of the Obama years, particularly with the Democrat Congress, were done with ongoing CRs. The federal government has been operating since since Oct. 1 on two CRs.
Marc Goldwein, senior policy director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – a bipartisan, nonprofit organization, told Fox News: “Essential staff at top level agencies would continue working, but most federal employees whose jobs aren’t vital would likely be sent home.”
But really, based on money spent, at least 83 percent of the federal government will keep operating. That includes the military, the Depart of Justice, the FBI, the CIA, Social Security and Medicare payments, school lunch programs, food stamps (SNAP), air traffic controllers and TSA officers, the Postal Service, even national parks this time. What will be closed? The National Transportation Safety Board, part of the EPA, and those agencies that collect and report economic data are some.
So, not surprisingly, the term “government shutdown” is grossly inaccurate.
And who is hurt? All important services continue and the government employees furloughed are paid all their back-pay for the time they did not work. Basically, they get a paid vacation in addition to their normal paid vacations. Not too terrible. So virtually no one is hurt.
History of government shutdowns
Surprisingly, the federal government has shut down 18 times since 1976, when Congress passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act…………. Interesting that in the general media hysteria over a government shutdown, this is never mentioned. Again, context is ignored to benefit an agenda.
Five times the federal government shut down when Democrats controlled the White House, Senate and House. This would be the first time that Republicans controlled all three during a shutdown.
There have been three significant government shutdowns in the history of the U.S. Two of those occurred during the Clinton administration in 1995 and 1996. President Clinton and the Newt Gingrich-led Republicans couldn’t agree and shut down the government for a total of 26 days. No Armageddon followed and the Republicans picked up seats in the next election after being lectured by the media how much their intransigence would cost them.
The third shutdown lasted 16 days during the Obama administration in 2013, when the House and Senate could not find agreement on extending the debt ceiling — because Obama would not sign a budget without it. Of course Republicans were blamed, but the effect of the shutdown was so unremarkable that Obama had to go to great lengths to close national open-air monuments just so Americans would notice.
The Office of Management and Budget said the 2013 shutdown cost about $2 billion — primarily the back-pay to federal employees for not working.
“The average person doesn’t really notice it,” Susan MacManus, political science professor at the University of South Florida, told WFLA in Tampa.
Shut her down
Other than the media frenzy — which is just becoming a big yawn to a lot of Americans because it is every day — where is the downside to shutting down the government other than having to pay some “non-essential” employees for not doing apparently non-essential work?
There is none. The upside is that there is the opportunity for Americans to realize that there are hundreds of thousands of federal jobs that are not important, and billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on them.
Perhaps, combined with the tax reform package and our ridiculously irresponsible level of national debt, Republicans could take these three points and find a way to explain exactly what needs to be done.
It’s obvious, right?