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How the Republicans Could Have "Won" the Partial Government Shutdown
Raymond Richman, 10/19/2013

The Republicans could have won had they concentrated on the so-called “government shutdown” and, early on, had raised the debt limit temporarily. In any case, the shutdown  was only a partial shutdown. It furloughed only employees not covered by the federal Antideficiency Act, which permits essential government functions to keep operating in the absence of authorized legislative funding. Had the House raised the debt ceiling before shutting down any government agencies, Americans would not have even noticed the partial shutdown. The Republicans missed the public relations gain they could have gotten if they had pointed how partial the shutdown was. But the threat to permit no new government borrowing scared the public to death. 

The public could have been shown how little they were affected by the partial shutdown. The veterans showed at the WWII memorial that the President unnecessarily barricaded entry to public monuments and parks to make the public believe that the shutdown seriously affected government operations when it actually eliminated the inessential and some of the fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal budget.

 As for the debt ceiling, it should not have been imposed in the first place. The only way to deal with the Obama explosion of the public debt is to force a reduction in federal government expenditures, a legitimate goal of the partial shutdown. The incurring of additional debt can only be ended by balancing the budget. Since no balanced budget was even contemplated, they should not have raised the debt ceiling issue at all. Raising the debt limit was necessary and should have been done at the same time they raised the budget issue. Instead, they allowed it to establish the deadline by which time agreement had to be reached. It was legitimate to attempt to deny funds for implementing Obama care but with Senate and Presidential opposition to repealing Medicare there was no possibility. As soon as they realized that, they tried to change tactics but their attempts to end the tax on medical devices and to postpone Obamacare for a year as Obama had done for corporations, with no legislative authority whatsoever, was rejected by the Senate. The public should know they will have to pay the tax which will be passed on to them in the form of higher premiums for their health insurance.  

All the principal essential agencies of the federal were funded during the shutdown and the shutdown applied only to unessential agencies and to many agencies that should not receive government support. A continuation of the partial shutdown would have helped to balance the budget and reduced the amount of federal borrowing needed.

During the so-called “government shutdown”, the following agencies were fully-funded except for expenditures not protected by the Antideficiency Act, i.e., inessential: Department of State, Treasury Department, Defense Department, Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Courts, the Patent Office, and others.

The following were substantially fundedDepartment of Labor, Department of Transportation, General Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, US Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, and others.

The following were unfunded or nearly so: Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Science Foundation, and many others.

As you can see from the above lists all or nearly all essential activities of the federal government continued to be funded during the partial shutdown. Thanks to the failure of the popular media to report what activities were funded and unfunded and the President’s unnecessary barring access to war memorials and national parks, the popular impression was created that the shutdown was wide and general. The impending foolish debt limit lent credence to the public view. It was a mistake for the House not to have increased the debt limit early on instead of waiting for its extension to occur simultaneously with the end of the partial shutdown.

The House of Representatives under the Constitution of the US was established by the first article of the Constitution. The Constitution provides that “All Bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” The Senate under Sen. Harry Reid pretends to have equal authority on spending and revenue matters with the House of Representatives. But the Constitution gives exclusive power to initiate revenue measures to the House, the federal body closest to the people? The title of the bill that ended the shutdown bears a House title even though it originated in the Senate.

Senators in the original Constitution were “chosen by the Legislature” of each state. The Senate was intended to act on behalf of the States to prevent the federal government's encroachment on its powers and legislation harmful to the States. While the 17th Amendment provided for the popular election of Senators, there was no change in the powers of the Senate. The States’ legislatures in passing the 17th amendment were not aware of the unintended consequences, the encroachment of the Federal Government on the powers of the States; witness the establishment of the Federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Education, formerly the exclusive concern of state governments.

The House, during the partial shutdown, has been sending bill after bill on the budget and the Senate has been tabling them without consideration. The President asserts that Obamacare was confirmed by his re-election but in the same election, the people elected a House of Representatives of the opposing party. It is the House through which the people speak and rule. The House of Representatives should withhold funding for all the agencies and programs it considers undesirable. It should fund only those it considers appropriate and none it considers undesirable. It should not allow itself to be humiliated or intimidated by the Senate or the President.

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

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  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

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  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]