The shutdown paradigm
There are understandable concerns about how the government shutdown could hurt Republicans, especially with the media wholly in the tank for Democrats. (Any reporter who doesn’t accurately report that Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shut the government down is in the tank for Democrats; it is a matter of objective fact. It’s fair enough to explain why, because he didn’t like any of the proposals coming from Republicans… but that kind of honest reporting would not produce the desired response from Low Information Voters. The media covers for Obama a lot, but they’re constantly throwing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak over Harry Reid.)
Jim Geraghty of National Review points out that political damage from the shutdown is “priced in” for Republicans at this point. In other words, backing down without any concessions from the Democrats would give them all pain, with no gain. The Democrats have more wiggle room – the media will still place laurels on their heads and anoint them with oil if they make a few concessions and get the government started again – but they’re hungry for the total, perhaps Party-destroying political win of forcing the Republicans to yield completely. At that point, it wouldn’t just be Beltway media and Low Information Voters the GOP leadership needs to worry about; it would be enraged members of their base, some of whom are already wondering what the point of having an “opposition” party is.
But even casual news consumers must be noticing that Reid and Barack Obama are the ones thundering they’ll never compromise, with Reid gunning down one funding resolution after another. That will make it tough to sell the “intransigent Republicans” narrative. And the wholesale crash of ObamaCare – an inexcusable disaster that no amount of chipper foolishness from the Administration can conceal – will put wind in the sails of defunding and delay proposals. If nothing else, an awful lot of relatively non-political observers are going to wonder why it’s not a good idea to delay a system that completely crashed under the sort of Web traffic normally experienced by mid-level cat blogs.
The optics of Shutdown Day One didn’t do much for the Democrat cause, either. The first thing we heard were complaints that the people who push elevator buttons for members of Congress, hold doors for them, and serve their food were being sent home without pay. Oh, the horror!
News of 800,000 non-essential federal workers on furlough led people to wonder why the government has 800,000 non-essential, extremely expensive workers on its payroll in the first place. Only something like six percent of EPA employees were deemed “essential.” Why are we being taxed out the wazoo, and forced to carry a crushing debt load, to pay for the rest of them, year after year?
Nobody in the Obama Administration was much troubled by a few million “non-essential” private sector workers getting blown out of the workforce; they routinely trumpet such news as a success, because it makes the heavily cooked U-3 unemployment metric go down. Fewer people in the workforce means fewer active workers unemployed. Who cares about the folks who get banished into the shadows of unemployment and government dependency forever? That’s a feature, not a bug, for those who seek to cultivate a gigantic Food Stamp Nation and harvest it for reliable votes. Unlike the furloughed federal workers, who will eventually return to their posts and collect back pay, the contraction of the private sector workforce – particularly its full-time sector – is looking permanent.
Day One ended with the amazing story of Barack Obama deliberately refusing to allow World War II veterans to visit their own memorial, an order they cheefully disobeyed. Reports of more arbitrary park and monument closings rolled in. Extra manpower to turn away visitors and deploy ugly barriers was brought in… to restrict access to open-air attractions that don’t normally require any manpower to operate. There is actually a sign hanging in front of the World War I memorial today that reads, “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service area is closed, except for 1st Amendment activities.”
This isn’t a “government shutdown.” It’s a petulant temper tantrum, a ridiculously pampered ruling class declaring war on the rest of America. How dare you take away their elevator-button pushers and footmen! Don’t you understand that if you leave Vice President Joe Biden with only a dozen staffers, and send the Third Deputy Assistant to the Assistant Undersecretary of Whatever sailing off on the blood-dimmed tide, mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world?
The shutdown is the most painfully visible evidence that as the private sector dwindles, work hours are cut, the American standard of living declines, and belts are tightened, the aristocracy is living large. Washington became the richest city in America over the last view years. A billion-dollar private corporation is remarkable; a billion-dollar government program is nothing. The longer the shutdown grinds on, the greater the danger that American voters will notice they don’t need a lot of those billion-dollar programs. They’ll wonder how many of those 800,000 non-essential workers really need to go back to work. And, just as the ruling class recoils in horror from getting thrown into the ObamaCare exchanges that are said to be good enough for the Little People, Americans will wonder why it’s so bad to push a few hundred thousand unnecessary federal employees into the private sector that Obama claims is “doing fine.”
Big Government politicians never want to put their money where their mouth is. They never have skin in the game. They exempt themselves from everything they inflict on the rest of us, including economic downturns. They burble with happy talk about policies whose effects they avoid completely. It’s easy for people living in a city full of non-essential employees to talk about how “recovery” is always right around the corner. They don’t suffer a bit when recovery never actually comes. Let’s call their bluff and invite them to live with us out here in flyover-country private-sector America.
The best way to do that would be to cap government spending and taxes at a tough percentage of Gross Domestic Product, and requiring a balanced budget. It’s the most common-sense reform ever devised. It would work miracles overnight. You want to see just how many of those federal employees are truly non-essential? Force liberal politicians to take money away from their favorite vote-buying schemes to pay them. Want to find out just how much of the EPA is not only non-essential, but counter-productive? Tie government spending to GDP growth. I promise you that agency would become a hollow shell overnight. Madcap environmentalism and the global-warming cult would disappear if the ruling class had to pay for them, instead of profiting from them.
Meanwhile, this “government shutdown” looks more like a first step to real reform than a “crisis.” Investors Business Daily puts it well in an editorial:
When the government shuts down, the president will do without three-fourths of his White House staff — 1,265 taxpayer-salaried federal workers. That’s a fraction of the government’s total waste.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who didn’t show up to vote on the budget last week, recently claimed, “the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make” in a government that spends almost $4 trillion each year.
But it’s funny how when the massive state apparatus is starved of its cash flow, lots of things magically appear in that bare cupboard.
Why does the White House need those 1,265 non-essential staffers? President Obama’s permanent campaigning has not been affected by their absence. He claims he doesn’t know what the government is doing – he learns about things like the IRS scandal by reading the newspaper, remember? Let’s take him at his word and cut his staff to the bone. Let’s call every bluff these people have made, not just through the Obama years, but for decades preceding them.
Over at National Review, Jim Geraghty worries that some useful and meaningful government services are impacted by the shutdown as well: experimental medical treatments, the Centers for Disease Control, law enforcement, military support activities. That’s a valid concern. We can fund those things specifically. It’s about time the government started funding things specifically, instead of dumping huge slabs of shapeless government pork on the omnibus-spending-bill griddle and screaming insults at us when we hesitate to let them run up more debt.
Republicans have been trying to put such micro-spending resolutions on the table, including one that would fund the parks and memorials, but Democrats keep killing them. Watch carefully, America. We shouldn’t be assigning blame for the shutdown. We should be embracing it. This could be the best thing that ever happened to us. It’s apparently the only way we can get the bloated parasite State to admit just how much of its vast bulk is truly important.
There is a federal law that requires the Senate to pass a budget. Democrats have defied it for over four years, a naked concession that their philosophy of government is incompatible with our constitutional order. No budget? Okay, fine: permanent shutdown. Fund everything one bill at a time, and haul your sorry posteriors into Congress for as many hours as it takes to pass them – quarter after quarter, year after year. If Harry Reid doesn’t like it, he is invited to retire immediately. He should have no difficulty finding work if he doesn’t want to retire. I hear the private sector is doing fine.
Update: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) nails it on Twitter:
Voting to cut off veterans care, closing memorials & now threatening to arrest disabled veterans. Democrats are on a cruel shutdown rampage.
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) October 2, 2013
When al Qaeda attacked Americans in Benghazi Obama refused to act. When disabled vets wanted to visit WW2 Memorial Obama rushed to block it.
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) October 2, 2013