What You Aren’t Told About a Government Shutdown
“It was over a trillion dollars, it was all lumped together, 2,242 pages, nobody read it, so frankly my biggest complaint is that I have no idea what kind of things they stuck in the bill…I voted against it because I won’t vote for these enormous bills that no one has a chance to read.” – Rand Paul
If it sounds like Rand Paul is a bit frustrated, can anyone blame him? This past week we saw a $1.1 trillion spending bill that is well over 2,000 pages passed by both houses of Congress. Having only one day to read the bill, Congress could not possibly know everything contained in it. But thanks to some back door agreements, and a bunch of handshakes between members in both parties, the majority of congressional members didn’t hesitate to cast their vote in favor of the bill. The passage was immediately followed with self-congratulations for avoiding a government shutdown. (If you have a few days, you can read the bill for yourself here.)
For solid conservatives, Rand Paul’s statements ring true. The problem however, is republicans in Congress who operate under the pretense of being conservative. Long before this bill came to a vote, establishment republicans were working the airwaves, using fear-mongering tactics, and claiming they would not allow another government shutdown. Below are a couple of notable quotes from republicans who vowed to avoid a shutdown:
- “Shutting down the government is not in our political interest, it will undermine the Republican brand …” – Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA)
- “Having charged up the hill once and been shot down, why would you want to do that again?” – Representative Tom Cole (R-OK)
- “[A government shutdown] would be an exercise in futility.” – Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY)
- “I don’t want to use a failed tactic for political purposes knowing that it’s not going to succeed.” – Senator Dan Coats (R-IN)
- “We really need a clean CR if we’re going to avoid a government shutdown.” – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
- “The president’s made it clear he is not going to sign it… I’m willing to fight all day long, but you’ve got to have a good prospect of being able to be successful. Because if you’re not successful, you shut the government down, you open it up and you haven’t achieved anything. You’re just going to have people shake their head and wonder what your thinking was.” – Governor John Kasich (R-OH)
Either these republicans are purely defeatists or they are self-preservationists. I tend to believe it’s the latter. If you think about it, each of the statements above demonstrate not a will to win, but rather a fear of losing. Evidently, they are more interested in keeping peace in hopes of living to see another day, than they are in living up to the promises they made to their constituents.
There are some interesting statistics regarding the face of politics since Obama took office. Since then, Democrats have lost 11 governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 913 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers. Included in those numbers are 9 U.S. Senate seats and 14 House seats from the 2014 mid-term elections. Why is that important? Because those mid-term elections immediately followed the 2013 government shutdown. A shutdown that the republican establishment feared would ruin their chances to take over the Senate.
So how then did the republicans win so many seats after the 2013 government shutdown? The answer is quite simple. America spoke! You see a government shutdown is not nearly as traumatic as they would lead you to believe. That’s not to say that Obama didn’t take matters into his own hands and do everything he could to make the shutdown of 2013 as painful as possible for the American people. In case you’ve forgotten, here is an article to jar your memory (http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/10/05/list-obama-closures-for-shutdown/).
But the facts regarding government shutdowns are often left unmentioned. According to Paul Roderick Gregory (a contributor to Forbes, “We are shutting down only thirteen percent of the Government (at most)”. In his article in October, 2103 he wrote about the impact of a government shutdown. He continued, “I would not count reducing federal government spending by 13 percent a “shutdown.” A more appropriate term would be a “reduction in non-essential discretionary spending,” or “government slim down” for short.”
Not included in his article is the fact that all federal employees who are furloughed (non-essential personnel who make up the 13%) during a government shutdown, are paid in full as soon as the shutdown comes to an end. (Here is a list showing the history of US Federal Government shutdowns.)
Given this information, it becomes increasingly clear that the beneficiaries of avoiding a government shutdown are the government and its agencies, not the American people. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that government shutdowns are a good thing. I’m simply suggesting they aren’t always a bad thing. Congress pushing through a 2,000 page spending bill and patting themselves on the back for avoiding a shutdown should not make any of us proud of Washington. Instead, it should bother the hell out of us!