It is possible that we will be facing a government shutdown in the near future. Of course, the government won’t really be shut down. The essential functions of the federal government will continue to be funded. It will be interesting to see just what the government is doing that we won’t miss. It may even be that life will go on as normal, even with a partial government shut down.
In any case, Joshua Green at the Boston Globe is actually rooting for a government shutdown. He thinks that if may restore sanity to Washington. I doubt that anything could accomplish that aim. There are a couple of statements in his column that I have to take issue with.
Anyone paying attention to Washington this week has probably experienced a familiar sinking feeling: Congress is embroiled in another one of its periodic hostage-taking crises over a looming budget deadline that threatens to close the government, cost taxpayers billions, and possibly plunge the economy back into recession.
Hostage taking? Who is being held hostage? It seems to me that the government would run a lot more smoothly if politicians would stop referring to their colleagues who happen to oppose them as terrorists or hostage takers. When you start insulting people, it becomes very difficult to work together. Whatever happened to civility? Oh, I know. Civility only really meant, “sit down and shut up”.
What’s most maddening about these debates is that the 2012 election was supposed to have settled them. It appeared to do so in favor of the Democrats: Obama was reelected by 5 million votes and his party gained seats in the House and Senate. But most Republicans either ignore these results or believe that they no longer reflect national sentiment. “That was a year ago,” says Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who wants to “defund” the Affordable Care Act. “I mean, c’mon!”
If the situation were reversed and we had a Republican president and the Democrats in Congress were opposing him, liberals would applaud the Democrats for standing up to the President’s evil agenda, while conservatives would be demanding the Democrats support the president because he won the election. The fact is that the Republicans are under no obligation to support the president’s agenda when if he had been re-elected in a landslide. At this moment, they are the opposition party. It is actually their job to oppose the president. In fact, the men who wrote the Constitution wanted something like gridlock. They didn’t want a majority to simply be able to roll over the minority nor did they want the government to be able to act recklessly.
Congress might start working again. The severity (and danger) of budget crises has steadily intensified as Congress has stopped working the way it is supposed to. It no longer operates as civic textbooks describe, where committees in both chambers study issues, pass bills, and then reconcile them in a formal negotiating conference. Instead, party leaders began resorting to last-minute, back-room deals. But Republicans, bitter about the deals they were getting, forced their leaders to stop. That led to the current system of negotiation-by-public-threat. A shutdown would be a bracing reminder to one party or the other (my money’s on the Republicans) of why the Gingrich approach failed so badly. When that lesson sinks in, the old, saner way of doing things will probably look much better.
The old, saner way of doing things is why we are in the mess we are in. The Democrats seem to think that they can just print more money and too many Republicans just don’t want to rock the boat. When a few Republican politicians actually begin to insist that the Republicans really try to keep their promises to balance the budget and decrease the size of government, they are labeled extremists and crazies and their leaders try to undercut them. It has come to the point that only drastic action, such as threatening to shut down the government is the only way to make the changes that we need. If everyone in both parties actually began to understand that we cannot keep going on the course we have been, then maybe all this drama will not be necessary and they can get to work.
- I’m Rooting for a Government Shutdown (businessweek.com)
- Odds of a government shutdown spike as GOP unveils new spending bill (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Mark Levin Bashes ‘Serial Liar’ Obama’s ‘Scare Tactics’ Over Gov’t Shutdown on CNN (mediaite.com)
- US government heading towards shutdown (telegraph.co.uk)