Eight cents out of every federal non-defense dollar represents a transfer from taxpayer to recipient. Entitlement transfers do not require annual Congressional approval. They can be changed only by entitlement reform, which is not on the table. We cannot, therefore “shut down” a federal government whose primary business is income redistribution.
The entitlement checks and interest payments must go out the door, government shutdown or no government shut down. The social security, unemployment compensation, disability, Medicare, and Medicaid checks go out automatically like the Ever Ready Energizer Bunny. Not to worry on this point. Continue reading
by George Landrith
Several days before the federal government was partially closed, President Barack Obama announced he would not negotiate with Congress on the federal budget or the debt ceiling. When specifically asked if he shouldn’t consider offering at least some compromise — given that the GOP was willing to compromise with him — Obama said, “I shouldn’t have to offer anything.” Since that time, he has consistently refused to negotiate in any way — even calling congressional leaders to the White House to tell them yet again that he will not compromise.
On the weekend before the shutdown, President Obama spent four hours on the golf course. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his colleagues in the Senate took the weekend completely off. Continue reading
The games politicians play: Barack Obama is having a lot of fun using the government shutdown to squeeze the public in imaginative ways. The point of the shutdown game is to see who can squeeze hardest, make the most pious speech and listen for the applause. It’s a variation on the grade-school ritual of “you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”
President Obama is not a bad poker player, but the man with all the chips always starts with the advantage (and he gets all the aces). He has closed Washington down as tight as he dares, emphasizing the trivial and the petty in making life as inconvenient as he can for the greatest number. It’s all in a noble cause, of course. Access to most of the memorials is limited, and often in curious ways. The Lincoln Memorial is easy to reach, with the streets around it remaining open. But the Martin Luther King Memorial is made difficult to reach, relegating it, you might say, to the back of the bus. Not very nice.
More than three and a half years after the Democrats passed Obamacare into law, the overhaul’s exchanges — its East German–like government marketplaces — finally, sort of, open for business. The Democrats fully expect their fellow Americans to be so excited about buying government-approved insurance through these government-run exchanges that they’re choosing to shut down the government rather than delay the individual mandate for a year. Better to shut down the government, it would seem, than let Americans freely decide — even for a year — whether or not to buy Obamacare-based insurance.
Alas, the individual mandate’s penalties will be low enough, and the cost of insurance under Obamacare will be high enough, that most people — especially younger, healthier people — will likely decide that the Obamacare fine beats the Obamacare product. But the Democrats need to get as many people to buy Obamacare-based insurance as possible, and they know that the individual mandate will often be the key to making — or coercing — the sale. So funding for the rest of the federal government can wait. Such is the strange state of play as we enter the last quarter of 2013, and hence the first quarter of the new fiscal year. Continue reading
Although President Obama claims that he can’t avoid shutting down public sites and monuments, war memorials were in fact kept open during the 1995/1996 government shutdowns. The administration’s decision to barricade the Lincoln Memorial marks the first time in its history the memorial has been totally off limits to visitors during a shutdown.
The administration has also balked at efforts by non-governmental groups to maintain access to public sites. (Related: RNC offers to pay to keep WWII memorial open)
But during the Clinton-era shutdown, World War II veterans kept the Pearl Harbor memorial open.
“Despite the federal government shutdown and an unrepaired sign that reads ‘Arizona Memorial closed,’ tourists are still getting expert commentary about the World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor,” wrote the Associated Press on January 1, 1996. Continue reading
All 128 employees of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. are working, while 3,000 safety inspectors employed by the Federal Aviation Administration are off the job.
The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing new pharmaceuticals. The National Institutes of Health is turning away new patients for clinical trials. Continue reading
The short narrative, compiled by people with even shorter memories, is that the United States government got to the brink of a shutdown because the unreasonable House Republicans refused to get over their obsession with putting an end to Obamacare before it is fully implemented.
The real story is a lot more complicated than that. To find the real start date, one has to go all the way to the Reagan administration when congressional Democrats under the late Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill realized the only way to keep the liberal welfare state afloat against the onslaught of Reaganism was to abandon the law governing the spending process. Instead of budgets and authorization bills and appropriations, O’Neill and company forced on Reagan massive, year-long continuing resolutions full of things that had never been taken up before just before zero hour. They gave the president a choice: Sign it or the government shuts down. Continue reading