Shutdown

Posted on November 8, 2012 7:14 am

One of the things you hear about from time to time are worries about a government shutdown. The Congress and the president always seem to find a way to avoid it. And, those ways always involve increasing the debt.

I got an idea. Let the government shut down.

No, I’m serious.

You see, the government doesn’t really shut down. All but essential services are stopped.

Think about that. Let that sink in.

Essential government services continue.

And that’s the clue to the entire problem: the government is performing non-essential services.

I’ve actually had this discussion with people. When I mention that the government shouldn’t be performing non-essential services, they counter with “Oh, but people are dependent on those services!”

Really. They’re justifying non-essential services by citing people that are so screwed up they can’t survive without them. But here’s the thing: they can. The services are non-essential. That means — and this is the part that so many people don’t seem to grasp — the services are not essential.

Oh, sure, there’ll be problems. But there will be problems anyway. The question is, when is the best time to deal with them: now, while they’re huge. Or later, when they’re even more huge.

Like Sarah Connor said, there’s a storm coming.

Stock up.

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25 Responses to “Shutdown”

  1. NO_MO_BAMA says:

    Let’s see you tell the 300 lb pig next door to me that her Obama phone is “non-essential” or the home health care person who seems to visit her 3 or 4 times a week…or her $1600+/month rent….or her God knows how much in free food. How much do you need to eat to be that FAT? She smokes free cigarettes too, I guess we can’t stop that or she’ll be 400 lbs. Her entire life is “non-essential”…….her’s and about 50 million other “voters”.

    RIP-USA

  2. Cardin Drake says:

    I agree. I’ve never forgiven Bush senior for caving on the government shutdown. If he would have stuck it out, he would have won that battle in the end. Remember, there is not a dime that can be spent without House approval. Trillion dollar deficits fall on them too. Shut it down. We can live without the EPA, the IRS, and all the rest forever without any ill effects.

  3. Manolo says:

    A federal government shutdown is not productive and it doesn’t save any money. Why? Because it only affects a very, very small number of hourly wage workers. The vast majority of federal jobs are salaried, not wage grade. The salaried employees don’t get paid during a shutdown only because the government is prohibited from spending funds not appropriated by Congress (read: there must be a budget passed). What happens is that the budget gets passed through an Ominbus bill, then all those people are paid retroactively. Also, their benefits are covered, too. Basically, they get free days off; the money tap can’t be turned off. The only way to save money is the end the programs completely and not allow the funding to be reprogrammed. The federal agencies must be required to return the money to the Treasury.

  4. hwuu says:

    Are there any essential government services? Around here we wandered into the forest with a few iron tools and long rifles and built the rest. I don’t recall Johnny Appleseed getting a government grant. I think the state of Indiana can manage to keep the peace and fill the potholes without any National help.

    If the Canadians get aggressive we might need a little help with that, but otherwise I think we can cope.

  5. Basil says:

    Manolo:
    But, if the resolution eliminates those non-essential jobs, then the problem is solved.

    Otherwise, leave it shut down.

  6. Keln says:

    I’ve been meaning to write about this myself. I’m for a government shutdown, but the Republicans have to be careful in how they use it. They can’t get everything they want. There will not be a true balanced budget, no matter what they do…the only way to have possibly gotten that was to control both houses and the presidency. That’s not happening for at least 4 years.

    So, unfortunately, the debt ceiling will have to be raised again. But if there is a shutdown, the Republicans might be able to squeeze some concessions out of the democrats, pass some sort of budget, and at least slow spending a bit.

    It’s just the reality of the situation that Republicans will only be able to take what they can get and live to fight another day.

  7. Manolo says:

    Basil: A continuing resolution does not eliminate federal jobs. Federal agencies don’t get $X for people. They get the appropriations for the PROGRAMS (emphasis added) Congress create through its laws. Congress doesn’t say, “You get X dollars for X people and X dollars for operations.” Congress gives the agencies a pot of money for an overall program and says, “You figure out how many people, buildings, cars, etc., it takes to carry out the law we passed.” Once a program gets started at an agency, it’s budget gets “annualized” as part of the agency’s overall budget and the money gets shifted back and forth within the agency. That’s the rub. You have to spike the law that authorizes the program to spike the people! The largest part of the President’s job is not his agenda. It’s to execute the budget that has been passed into law, the vast majority of which are the PROGRAMS created by –ta daaa!!!– CONGRESS!

  8. Basil says:

    Manoli:
    When I wrote “resolution,” I wasn’t referring to a continuing resolution. I was using “resolution” to refer to the problem being resolved. By cutting those jobs and expenditures. Anything else doesn’t resolve it. Leave it shut down.

  9. Manolo says:

    Keln: You’re ignoring the greatest powers of the legislative branch, especially the House’s most-awesome “Power of the Purse.” A fast recap of the most important budget laws: Article 1, Sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Constitution. The Budget & Accounting Act of 1921, the Budget & Accounting Procedures Act of 1950 and the Congressional Budget & Impoundment Act of 1974. Sequestration was set under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. GRH II (Gramm-Rudmann-Hollings I was ruled unconstitutional) provided more flexibility toward achieving the deficit targets set in GRH I. The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 extended the BB&EDCA Act (above), established “Pay As You Go” for entitlement spending, and divided spending into discretionary and mandatory categories. The Balanced Budget Agreemnt of 1997 only set deficit reduction targets that lasted through FY-2002. No new targets have ever been set. The “Powe of the Purse” is exclusively that of the House: Article 7 states, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives…” The president cannot introduce ANY legislation (ever); this particular one must make it out of the House. The Republicans are not going to allow tax hikes to come out of the House while it controls the House. Mr. Obama is facing a budget showdown of the worst type. In his announcement the other night, Speaker Boehner was slyly telling Mr. Obama to get on his knees and beg.

  10. Son of Bob says:

    Only thing better than a temporary government shut down is a permanent government shut down.

  11. Manolo says:

    Basil: I appreciate the clarification, but my point stands. America can’t operate without a budget. That’s the Constitution. No military, no nothing. It’s not so simple as one might think; it can’t just be shut down and left dormant. It doesn’t work that way. The way to do it is to repeal the laws that create the programs. The problem won’t be solved by shutting the government down. The problem will be solved by cutting the programs altogether, including those ones that impress “pass through taxes” on business, like the Universal Service Charge that funds the so-called “Obamaphone.” The government is basically making businesses collect a tax for it while it collects the funds, expends it and manages the program.

  12. Jimmy says:

    Shutdown the machines that write the non-military checks.

  13. Basil says:

    Manalo:
    I think we’re pretty much saying the same thing regarding a solution. My suggestion is, until resolved, shut it down. Or, at least shut the non-essential services, which is what a shutdown does.

  14. Manolo says:

    Republicans never win in a government shutdown situation. Seniors –most of all– will be extremely angry if the don’t get their Social Security checks (Ugly Truth Moment Starts Now: The vast majority of seniors don’t NEED Social Security. It’s pocket change for them; most of it pays for their big kid toys and goes into slot machines. Numerically few “depend” on it). Republicans won’t risk being swept from office during mid-year elections when Democrats control the presidency and the Senate.

    Republicans, however, will win on sequestration, though, because it’s a 50/50 split between the defense and non-defense programs. The bulk of the persons to be affected will be government contractors in Washington. Because a lot of these companies are the ones supporting the president’s initiatives and the social programs he favors, the companies will then put pressure on Mr. Obama to make concessions to get the budget passed. Republicans will not lookk like the bad guys with sequestration; the president will take that squarely on the chin. That’s why Mr. Obama agreed to cover Lockheed Martin’s legal costs if they refused to comply with the law and issue the pink slips before the election. What does Lockheed Martin provide most to Mr. Obama’s initiatives? Human resources.

  15. hwuu says:

    I would like to see us hold out for a frozen budget. At 2007 levels. Until there is a new budget that passes. Also, never ever raising the debt ceiling again.

    Is that a bridge too far Keln?

  16. Peregrine John says:

    Ohhhhhh. That makes a frightening amount of sense. Frightening that the most sane yet direct course of action should come from a humor blog.

  17. Manolo says:

    Basil: I believe we are, but I’m pointing out that a shutdown to force agreement is as equally unworkable as Mr. Obama’s “Recovery Act.” This is because it’s just as impossible to spend our way to economic sanity the same as it’s impossible to spend our way to prosperity.

    All a government shutdown does is send a bunch of bureaucrats home on a temporary vacation courtesy of the taxpayers’ wallets. There is zero net savings. The rents must still be paid at the buildings occupied, the heat/AC bills paid, the storage fees, etc., etc. The bills continue to pile up for “non essential services” the same as they do for “essential services.” In fact, it costs more to shut the government down. This is because the work piles up and then the government must pay overtime for the workers to catch up and meet the weekly, monthly, and annual requirements they’re legally compelled to meet (There are a tremendous number of these requirements). Plus, for every bill that’s not paid 30 days net, the government must pay (with our tax dollars) interest for its tardiness courtesy of the Prompt Payment Act. My point is that the laws/legal obligations do not stop and the calendar do not stop moving forward just because the workers are idled by a test of will between the president and the Congress. In fact, I used Social Security checks as an example in an earlier post. That’s a bad example because entitlement spending falls under an essential service! Things like national parks would close, though, but most people would just walk around the gate anyway if they can!

  18. Keln says:

    Basil: I’m not ignoring what the powers afforded to congress are. I am simply acknowledging political reality. Republicans will never hold the government under siege long enough to force any kind of real balanced budget. If they tried, they’d get murdered in the 2014 elections, and then that could hand the house back to the dems. Trust me, from day one of a government shutdown, the dem-media spin machine will be in full gear just as it was during the Clinton-Gingrich faceoff.

    What I’m saying is, they should use what leverage they have carefully and not overspend their political capital reaching for something they won’t get. Obama would just play golf while the government is shutdown and wait out the Republicans. What does he care? And Harry Reid would refuse to even discuss anything with republicans, as he has done now ever since he began running the Senate.

    And yes hwuu…it is too far. As much as I would love to see the debt ceiling not only never raised again, but lowered and someday eliminated entirely…it will be raised again.

    I think at this point, the only real fix would come when government collapses under its own debt, which will force the flow of money to stop. It will take quite a few drops in credit rating to get to the point where we can’t borrow anymore, but I don’t see politicians ever fixing it on their own.

    Personally, I wonder how we have any credit rating at all now.

  19. Manolo says:

    The debt limit’s not important. The deficit is. The debt limit is the maximum amount of federal debt that may legally be outstanding at any time. A local example of it can be seen when you apply for a loan and they tell you how much you qualify for. The bank’s saying, “Okay, we’ve looked at your debt-to-income ratio and we’re only going to let you borrow up to this amount.” The “up to this amount” is the debt limit.

    What’s important is the deficit, which is the amount by which outlays (expenditures) exceed receipts (incoming money) in a fiscal year. There are three types of deficits and the public largely knows only one. They are: on-budget, off-budget, and unified. An example of off-budget –and the most shady– is when you hear politicians talk about how much “savings” or “cuts” they’ve made. Most of it is a shell game. Using my example of the bank from above, in figuring out your debt limit (or “up to this amount”), the bank is heavily considering your deficit; your debt-to-income ratio. The government’s ability to generate revenue (its “income stream”) is contingent on its primary source of receipts: taxation, e.g. how much it can bring in every year from its citizenry. Ultimately, it’s finite: the citizenry can only be taxed up to 100 percent…and when the citizenry are broke, the governnent’s broke. That’s why the government’s so concerned about jobs: it doesn’t want its revenue stream to stop. That’s why the greatest fear the government faces is a tax revolt by the middle class.

  20. Manolo says:

    We’re having serious discussion on Frank J.’s site? I must’ve missed the Drudge headline that read “‘I have returned,’ Jesus Christ says.”

  21. Basil says:

    It’s okay. Frank J doesn’t read this site anyway.

  22. John S says:

    This is the wrong approach. The best course for Republicans is to get out of the way and let the Democrats have their way. Let the working poor get their $1.6 trillion tax increase and $9 gasoline. Let them lose another 8 million jobs. If the voters want big government, shove it up their ass.

    In 2014, we’ll get the 61 Senate seats we need to impeach Obama.

  23. Jimmy says:

    There’s no “day of reckoning” approaching.

    There’s an “era of reckoning” approaching.

  24. Basil says:

    John S:
    It’s 2/3 of the Senate to convict, meaning the GOP would need 67 votes.

  25. Manolo says:

    John S. & Basil: You’re both overly optimistic about the intelligence of the American voter. Tuesday night showed what happens when your country’s international math, science and reading standing is 33rd out of 33 countries rated.

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