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Friday, April 21, 2017

The Looming Government Shutdowm

One of the funnier bits of news analysis over the last month is the repeated discussion of the possible government shut down that will occur if the Congress is unable to fund the government by the end of next week.  I say "funnier" because the media people using the argument do not realize what will happen if the federal government runs out of money.

Let's start with an explanation of the procedures in place.  If no funding is passed, the government doesn't all shut down.  The military stays on duty.  The FBI still fights crime.  In fact, there are two types of federal activities that continue:  1) The first group of activites that continue are those for which funding has already passed.  2) The second group of activities that continue are those which the president determines -- in his sole discretion -- are "essential".  Let's expand what that means.  If Congress has not yet passed the appropriations for an agency or department of the federal government for this fiscal year, the decision what stays open and what closes is up to President Trump.

It's important to note the big difference between the looming federal shutdown and the ones that took place during the Obama years.  That difference is President Trump instead of Obama.  In other words, if the Democrats want to shut down the government to protect funding for Planned Parenthood, Trump will just cut those funds off during the shutdown.  If the Democrats want to guarantee that there are no funds for the border wall, they can shut down the government, but President Trump can then decide that funds for programs like DACA that assist illegal aliens will stop flowing during the shutdown.  Trump could also stop all funding to PBS or the National Endowment for the Humanities or grants to university professors during the shutdown.  Trump can cut the funds from every one of the pet programs put in place by the liberals over the last ten years, and it will be the government shutdown that lets him do that.

My guess is that in the event there is a shutdown, we will see some variation of this play out in the media.  It will not be easy for the Democrats to explain why they are taking a position that stops 100 billion dollars from flowing to their favorite programs in order to stop 1.5 billion from going to the border wall.

In other words, the days when the words "government shutdown" were bad news for Republicans are over.  A shutdown is not good news, but it is likely much worse for the Democrats.

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