Latest posts by Beshoy Shokralla (see all)
- Left, Right, Middle: Is there a point to this government shutdown? - January 31, 2019
Is there a point to this government shutdown? Do you anticipate a compromise? Which side is being unreasonable here?
Please note all opinions were written during the shutdown and reflect the reality of the shutdown prior to January 25, 2019.
The point of the government shutdown is to hold the country hostage to pass an ineffective and inflammatory budget resolution. As a writer, it’s critical to look at both sides, but when Trump said he would “own” the shutdown, House Democrats tried to introduce bills to reopen the government, and McConnell was nowhere to be found, there is not much room to debate who is being unreasonable.
National parks, left unsupervised, are defaced. Food inspections are left dormant. Airports are experiencing security closures. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are left without a paycheck, while all these “non-essential” government services, and more, fall by the wayside. The shutdown isn’t truly about the wall.
The shutdown is a show of power. It is clear that the immigration “crisis” at the border is not truly about the wellbeing of Americans, if the President, when faced with all the devastating effects of a long-term shutdown, continues to avoid compromise. It is the sign of an ineffective, egotistical leadership, and needs to come to a resolution quickly for the sake of the nation.
Government shutdowns are a result of the government not passing an appropriation bill to cover agency spending for a certain period of time. Basically, the government doesn’t allocate money for agencies to pay bills, forcing them to shut down until the appropriate money is sent over. This doesn’t mean spending is cut by an agency—it merely delays the availability of funds for an agency to pay for things it’s already agreed to do. So, is there a point to these shutdowns? Absolutely!
Much like a business, there are consequences to not paying bills. While devastating to the economy and hundreds of thousands of federal employees, shut downs are a natural consequence of Congress and the President playing politics with the people’s money. Shutdowns force our federal government to compromise, and force political parties to set their petty ideological differences aside to do the most fundamental job of Congress: pay for things we already agreed on.
Shutdowns are also a nonpartisan issue, as lengthy shutdowns have plagued every administration since the introduction of the Antideficiency act of 1870. No one party is at fault for shutdowns in general, but the most recent shutdown specifically was the fault of the President and Republicans for demanding $5.7 billion for a border wall two days before the deadline for the appropriation bill.
The 2018-19 government shutdown is the longest in U.S. history. Though the issue blatantly at hand is a wall, the more nuanced issue is the 2020 election. President Trump promised a wall, the Democrats promised they will stop a wall. When the campaign trail is re-sparked, both sides desperately need the fuel of winning in this shutdown battle—neither side can afford to lose.
Thus, there is no real point to the government shutdown and federal employees have been used as pawns for an end game that nobody has their heart fully set on. Most analysts say that the wall will cost more than the five billion dollars that Trump projects and more analysts still find the efficacy of the wall questionable at best.
Both sides here are being unreasonable. They must understand that this is a tense game of politics, and they have to give the other side a way to compromise with dignity in order to break the stalemate. Under a Republican-controlled White House and Senate, a reasonable budget would increase funding for border security and make illegal immigration harder, while compromising on some points to account for the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. A black and white argument of wall or no wall is unreasonable and undemocratic.