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Every 'shutdown' produces faux, hypocritical outrage from the other party

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
What we’re calling a “government shutdown” is not really a “shutdown,” if “government shutdown” means what “government” and “shut” and “down” mean.

Until recently, I was generally unaware of Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana. But every time I catch him on cable news lately he cracks me up by speaking countrified wisdom that makes sense. I saw him asked by one of the cable newsers what he thinks of the “shutdown.” He called it “bone deep, down-to-the-marrow stupid.”

Our system allows this particular stupid tactic, which speaks ill of our system. Both parties do it when they think it will help them, but express maximum, faux, hypocritical outrage when the other party does it. Right now, it is Kennedy’s party that is in the faux outrage racket.

The shutdown tactic was invented only in 1976. Since then, it has been used 18 times (which may mean our system is getting even stupider and more dysfunctional). Both parties have used it, but whenever one party uses it, the other party calls it outrageous and unconscionable and someone (in this case it seems to be the assignment of Budget Director Mick Mulvaney) denounces it and is then asked to explain the previous “shutdown,” including those the denouncer supported. That was different, Mulvaney (and all the other designated explainers) explain, lamely.

For starters, what we’re calling a “government shutdown” is not really a “shutdown,” if “government shutdown” means what “government” and “shut” and “down” mean.

All of the most vital federal government functions (and plenty that are somewhere below “vital”) remain in function. It isn’t a “government shutdown” because the mail gets delivered, Congress stays open, the Supreme Court (and unsupreme federal courts) stay open.

The military remains on the job. The soldiers and sailors may not get paid on time, which is a faux horrified talking point for the party opposed to the “shutdown,” but the soldiers and sailors will get back pay when the “shutdown” ends. It may in some cases be a significant inconvenience for those soldiers and sailors barely living from paycheck to paycheck, but they will get paid.

In some past shutdowns both parties have agreed to provide pay for the military during the shutdown. In the current shutdown, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, asked for unanimous agreement of the Senate to pay the sailors and soldiers during the “shutdown,” but the Republicans wouldn’t agree — possibly, just possibly, because this is a Democratic shutdown and the Republicans would have to stop wrapping their outrage in concern for the soldiers and sailors who are not getting paid. This is actually standard operating procedure for finger-pointing during “shutdowns” that aren’t really shutdowns because:

The federal officials needed to keep airplanes flying stay on the job, and the airplanes keep flying. Social Security checks still get issued and mailed and delivered, and Medicare patients still get care; because the national parks stay open, although I believe Mulvaney said yesterday that the park bathrooms may not be cleaned.

Yes, many federal workers at various agencies may be seriously inconvenienced by an unplanned, unpaid vacation of unknown duration. I’m not saying it’s nothing. I’m saying calling it a “government shutdown” is a colossal overstatement. You may, if you like, call it a partial reduction of non-urgent government functions.

So why are we having this one? Because:

  1. Congress has not passed a budget for the current biennium.
  2. The government has been running on a series of short-term “continuing resolutions” (hereafter: CR), which provide temporary funding until a budget is adopted. But these are time-limited and the most recent one has run out.
  3. The passage of a new CR is still subject to the old filibuster rule (which, under recent rule changes no longer applies for a number of other designated functions). So it takes 60 votes to put through a new CR.
  4. Republicans have just 51 votes in the Senate (and several Republicans opposed the current CR that the Republican leadership wanted to push through) so the CR cannot pass without Democratic support.
  5. Ta-Da. That means Senate Democrats, who have very little leverage these days, have some at the moment. I should have said this right at the top. A government shutdown provides a stupid but legal way for the party out of power to gain some leverage. The Senate Democrats (let’s say their leader, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York) have decided to use that leverage to insist that they will provide the votes to pass a CR and avoid the “shutdown” in exchange for progress on the so called DACA fix. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) refers to an Obama-era policy that deferred deportation of so-called “dreamers,” whose parents brought them illegally into the U.S.  as children. President Trump rescinded the Obama order.
  6. Trump won’t do the DACA fix, so far.

Basically, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York says that he will provide the Democratic votes necessary to pass a new CR and avoid so-called “shutdown” in exchange for some relief from the threat of deportation of the “dreamers.” Trump has refused that deal. We are now in a full-scale finger-pointing war over who gets the blame if soldiers don’t get their paychecks and various other things happen that might happen in what is exaggeratedly called a “shutdown” of the federal government.

I’ll quit after one more thought, directed at dumping on a particularly deceptive Republican talking point that I heard constantly on Sunday and which really cuts back to the main reason Democrats are willing to (not really) shut down the government. The Republican talking point is that there’s nothing in the current proposed CR to which Democrats seriously object, so they should just pass the CR, keep the government open, and keep talking about other issues.

That’s sort of true but also mostly bogus. Democrats object to something that’s NOT in the CR, but that they want in the CR, which is DACA relief. The lack of a long-term budget gives the Dems some leverage and they want to use it to get DACA relief. Maybe that’s smart or dumb, politically. Maybe it’s right or wrong, morally. There are a lot of things Democrats want that they can’t get because they don’t control either house of Congress or  the White House. They have a moment of leverage. And it’s not up to the Republicans to tell them how to use that leverage. They can say yes or no, but they can’t blame the Democrats for trying.

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Comments (21)

Does anyone listen anymore?

After too much Chicken Little style faux outrage about everything, does anyone listen anymore?

What has struck me over the

What has struck me over the past almost eight years, since Republican control of Congress (in the 2010 elections), is that paty's absolute refusal to engage in compromise. Ever. On anything.

Republican leaders present this or that bill and refuse even to talk with Democrats about it, much less permit any amendments from Democrats. There is repeated Republican stonewalling--the refusal, for example, to let President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court even be heard/reviewed by the Senate--and the only "discussions" that are held by Republican leadership are within the Republican caucus, not with Democrats. Some individual lawmakers keep trying to include Democrats in devising ways out of the legislative hole, but their proposals are rejected--this time by Stephen Miller or John Kelly, the two guys who are running Trump lately, as well as Ryan and McConnell.

Trump simply doesn't know what he's doing and doesn't care to learn his job. So he sways like a reed and is now pretty much a puppet of his staff (Senator Graham is the latest to lament this fact).

This shut-down is a Republican mess, because they could avoid it by including the Dreamers. Which they all say "Oh! We want to include them!" Well. . .?

“This shut-down is a

“This shut-down is a Republican mess, because they could avoid it by including the Dreamers.” Or, one can say that this is a Democrat mess because they could avoid it by NOT insisting on including dreamers… who are, after all, here illegally.

So is everyone else

unless you're a Native American.
Which tribe certified Trump's grandfather as a legal immigrant?

There were no immigration

There were no immigration laws at that time.

Trying

“…They can say yes or no, but they can’t blame the Democrats for trying.”

But, of course, they will. Just as, were the situation reversed, Democrats would blame Republicans for trying. Politics lately has little to do with what's best for the country and too much to do with the exercise of power for its own sake.

And, if there's anyone reading this who's not already aware: In 2013, A certain New York real estate developer made plain, when interviewed by CNN about a previous "shutdown" when Obama was president, that, in his view, it was the president who bore ultimate responsibility for such a situation. Somehow – pardon my cynicism – I think that New York real estate developer, now the Current Occupant, will now insist, as Eric has suggested, that "this is different." Or, he will direct one of his spokespersons to do so while he works hard at Mar-A-Lago.

both sides

"Both sides do it" is my leas favorite political cliche.

As a Democrat, I like to claim a monopoly on hypocrisy because it's a de facto acknowledgement that at least we have standard to fall short of.

The Trumpster Owns the Shutdown

Well, the great, self-proclaimed, deal maker has failed, bigly. Trump, the leaderless Republican President, who has said the buck stops with him, and he alone could do it, has managed the government to a shutdown for several days, or so it appears. Trump is falsely blaming the Democrats, on his one-year anniversary, for HIS shutdown. The Trumpster owns the shutdown. Playing brinkmanship and running from one continuing resolution to another continuing resolution is not the way to run a country. It seems obvious why Trump has had so many business bankruptcies, he doesn’t have a clue on how to lead. You can’t run a country like a business. Here we are after one very long tiring year of Trump. No one can figure out what Trump wants, the swamp is bigger than ever, and the rest of the world is backing away from America. The economy is moving along nicely. Of course, Trump takes the credit, but many economists say much of the economy’s success is due to what President Obama put in place when he was President. Attention seeking still controls Trump and he hasn’t figured out how to tell the truth because the attention garnered is far more important than truth. Hypocrisy runs amuck. The congressional leaders and Trump need to forget all the sniping and falsehoods and get to the work of doing the people’s business that they were elected to do. If not for hypocrisy how could we ever identify a politician. Have you noticed with Republicans it is never the right time to deal with an issue? After each mass murder it is never time to deal with gun control because the NRA owns the Republicans. It is never time to deal with immigration issues even though decades long political inaction caused the problems they complain about. It is time for the politicians to get back to regular order and work for the good of the country.

Everyone

Everyone who knew anything about Trump deals
knew what to expect save those others he schnockkered to get to be POTUS but not enough listened to them. Hopefully Robert Mueller will have a deal for the harasser in chief that gives us back our guvmint eventually. Obstruction of justice, money laundering and more rumblings of relief from Trump and his ilk in Congress can give us all hope that another “long national nightmare” will be over soon.

“The congressional leaders

“The congressional leaders and Trump need to forget all the sniping and falsehoods and get to the work of doing the people’s business that they were elected to do.” Very true and they were not elected to help illegal immigrants. But they were elected to defend the borders, improve economy, and finish ISIS…

It's not an immigration issue, it is a moral issue

I don't see the DACA as illegal immigrants. The US is the ONLY COUNTRY THEY KNOW. They were brought here WITHOUT BEING PART OF THE DECISION to come here. Were you expecting a tantrum by the kids because they knew they were not supposed come here? They go to school here, they work here, some are in the military, they pay taxes. As far as their illegal parents go they were allowed to come here by politicians over the decades because they are cheap labor that makes big money for US companies like big agra, roofing companies, meat packing houses, etc. Remember good old GWB said they are doing the jobs no one else will do. So Bush was more than willing to have them here. Take them out of the labor force and try and fill their menial jobs with Americans. Good luck with that. Watch your prices rise in the industries they work in as they exit. At some point America has to has to grow a heart and deal with the SELF-INFLICTED POLITICAL WOUNDS created by the INACTION OF OUR POLITICIANS. This is a case where both party's are totally complicit. This is a moral issue, not an immigration ISSUE, created by politicians. they have to fix it.

We don't need to spend billions building a stupid wall. Ron Paul is already using $40,000,000,000 for a completed wall number. Mexico will not pay for the wall! Either Mexico pays for the wall or there is no wall. If companies hire illegal immigrants there has to be consequences for them that exceed the profit they make from them. The illegals will go somewhere else and half of America will feel better about it. It will be an immoral win for them.

“The US is the ONLY COUNTRY

“The US is the ONLY COUNTRY THEY KNOW” No, DACA includes people who were brought here as 14 and 15 year olds and had been here just for a few years.

“They were brought here WITHOUT BEING PART OF THE DECISION to come here” No, there is no requirement that they were brought here by their parents so they could have come here alone or with other relatives.

“They go to school here, they work here, some are in the military, they pay taxes” Some do but for sure not all of them.

“Take them out of the labor force and try and fill their menial jobs with Americans. Good luck with that. Watch your prices rise in the industries they work in as they exit.” I am fine with prices growing since that will happen because the wages will grow in the fields (literally and figuratively) where illegal immigrants used to work. Isn’t it what we all want?

“If companies hire illegal immigrants there has to be consequences for them that exceed the profit they make from them” Totally agree.

And finally, about morality. Yes, you can argue that it is morally right to let those kids stay… but you have to admit that they don’t have the right for that and don’t have the right to even demand it. It is entirely up to Americans to decide and they can only plea for help.

"“They go to school here,

"“They go to school here, they work here, some are in the military, they pay taxes” Some do but for sure not all of them."

All people covered by DACA are either in school, have graduated from high school (or earned a GED) or served in the Armed Forces and they are required to pay taxes/

Well....

Actually the Republicans only delivered 46 votes, not 50 or 51, so even without the filibuster this bill would have failed. In addition, it wasn't Democrats who decided to piss away months trying to repeal Obamacare instead of working on the nuts n bolts of governance that they always promise to work on. And we all recall that Republicans NOT Democrats made the tax bill which a clear majority of Americans didn't actually want the big and only priority.

Looking at the Executive branch we see absolutely no leadership of any kind at any point over the past year. In fact, the shut down actually seems to have taken the White House by surprise despite being a forgone conclusion for weeks.

Meanwhile shut downs in general have become a favorite outcome for Republicans who always seem to think: a) No one will notice. b) They can blame someone else. and c) It will wins them elections. Trump is on the record as having said that we needed a good shutdown. The Tea Party always thinks a shutdown is a great idea. The rest the Republicans obviously think they'll "win" this shutdown. For his part Schumer said they had a deal until the White House pulled back.

This bizarre media narrative that EVERYONE is to blame is simply an old media comfort zone that permits a familiar guise of neutrality. It has been interesting to watch the media focus on the "blame game" rather substance as if it's ALL just politics. We end up with an incoherent concept of politics wherein an attempt to protect almost a million people from malicious deportation can be nothing more than a bargaining chip in a "game" rather than principled leadership. The whole exercise attempts to reduce a clear political crises to a spectator sport that can only yield a trivial outcome.

Given how many years it has

Given how many years it has been that government has been running under continuing resolutions ( 7 or 8 ?)-- which generally aligns with Republican control of Congress--can we stop pretending that the Republican party is capable of running a government ?

The only reason they can't institute a one-party dictatorship is the division between their Bolsheviks ('Majority") and Mensheviks ("Minority")--but it is apparently their fondest wish to do so at the expense of democracy or the inclusion of an opposition party.

...The youthful Trotsky, now and for years to come a Menshevik, reportedly told Lenin at one point, ‘That’s dictatorship you’re advocating,’ to which Lenin replied, ‘There is no other way.’...

But hey, today, it is pathetic how unable that normal government functions cannot be performed by the Republicans. Can't/won't assemble a budget--can't/won't declare wars---can't/won't perform governmental oversight.

Solution

The Congress should put in an automatic increase in the national debt of about 5% so these votes only come up seldom if every. Why do they waste so much time with things that do nothing positive for the country, like try to find immigration proposal supported by the majority of Americans. These tug of wars are a huge waste of time.

Speaking for myself and a

Speaking for myself and a couple other's, probably, shutting down the US government to force the government to break US immigration law for political gain is as worthy of outrage as anything I can think of.

This was a relatively

This was a relatively impartial piece – good to see it… I can add just one point: I am almost sure that this shutdown was the first the reason for which was the interests of those who violated American law and who are not legal residents of the United States…

The Law

Not to interrupt anyone's righteous stream of consciousness, but would someone please copy and paste the specific law that is being violated by the criminals those opposed to DACA keep referring to and where in that law it lists infants, toddlers and young children as felons, accomplices, etc., who, if apprehended and convicted, "shall be deported immediately," or whatever it says?

Thanks a lot.

A huge request, I know. But it really would go a long way toward helping me (and many others, I'm sure) understand what it is you're saying (over and over and over again).

And while I'm at it and because I'm curious, if you're someone who feels strongly about the legal aspects of this thing, how do you feel about the laws that kept slavery legal in America for almost 100 years; and are you, by chance, disappointed or angry that the majority of the American people decided those laws needed to be done away with?

By that I mean that from what I can tell, nearly 90 percent of the American people think the law you're talking about is a dumb law that needs to be changed and I'd like to know what you think about that. Are those eight or nine-out-of-ten Americans being stupid? Is there something deep, dark and dangerous about DACA people they aren't seeing or understanding? Or is your only real beef rooted in this endless drone that says, "They're violating our laws" (so they need to be rounded up by Stephen Miller's and Jeff Session's law enforcement round up crews and sent back to wherever they came from right now, before they're old enough to vote)?

I've found that often the

I've found that often the best way to be educated, is to educate yourself.

Maybe you can answer your own question, by having a look for the age exemption to US immigration law.

Also, if youre of the opinion that immigration law shouldnt be enforced, maybe you can give some thought to where the non worth enforcing line might be drawn, and what is qualified to draw it.

“would someone please copy

“would someone please copy and paste the specific law that is being violated by the criminals those opposed to DACA keep referring to” http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/us-immigration/crime-enter-illegally.... It does not list infants and toddlers specifically but it doesn’t exclude them specifically either so it applies to everyone, including infants and toddlers.

“how do you feel about the laws that kept slavery legal in America for almost 100 years; and are you, by chance, disappointed or angry that the majority of the American people decided those laws needed to be done away with?” When the majority of the American people decide that we need to be done away with immigration laws and should have an open border and that will run through proper channels and the law will be changed, I would accept it.

“nearly 90 percent of the American people think the law you're talking about is a dumb law that needs to be changed” I am afraid you misinterpret what those people say. In fact, they think that the Dreamers have to be pardoned and allowed to stay; otherwise they are fine with the laws and actually want them enforced more strictly and even made more stringent.