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Swamp Watch: Silly Shutdown Sensationalism

“Government shutdowns don’t shut down the government …”

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No, the government is not “shutting down” at midnight.

Not in any meaningful sense, anyway.   Sure, it is looking increasingly as though there will be no agreement between U.S. president Donald Trump and members of the U.S. Senate on another stopgap spending resolution – but despite attempts by “journalists” to sensationalize this situation in pursuit of perpetual partisan polarization, not much is going to change when the clock strikes twelve.

To recap: Trump wants $5 billion included in the short-term spending resolution to pay for enhanced security measures along the U.S.-Mexican border – including portions of his $25 billion wall (you know, the one Mexico was supposed to pay for).

Trump tried to cave on this $5 billion appropriation, but his base wouldn’t let him … forcing him to revert to his prior promise to “shut down” government in the event it wasn’t included in the spending resolution.

With virtually no chance the U.S. Senate (which needs 60 votes to do pretty much anything these days) will go along with this particular spending request, a “shutdown” seems inevitable.

What actually “shuts down,” though?

For all the ominous fear-mongering from the media, government shutdowns don’t shut down government.

Back in 2013 – the last time government “shut down” for any meaningful stretch of time – it was estimated that only 17 percent of the sprawling, unsustainable federal behemoth was impacted.

Let’s go down the list, shall we?

(Click to view)

(Via: Provided)

Social Security?  MedicaidMedicare?

These three entitlement programs – which are projected to absorb $2.7 trillion (or 61 percent) of the $4.4 trillion the federal government is projected to spending during the current fiscal year – are untouchable.  Totally separate from the appropriations process, they will continue to operate during a shutdown.

Similarly, rising interest payments on the federal government’s astonishing $21.8 trillion debt will also continue to be paid.  So that’s another nearly $363 billion in the current fiscal year unaffected by a “shutdown.”

What else?  

Well, the money-losing U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will continue to run, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will continue doling out food stamps, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) division will continue to patrol the border.

Active-duty military personnel are exempt from the shutdown, too, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue to run its system of hospitals and pay out benefits.

Air traffic controllers will continue to work, as will employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  Meanwhile the federal court system – a.k.a. the judicial branch – will remain open.

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Oh, and the ongoing investigation into Trump led by special counsel Robert Mueller will continue its work … or rather its descent into the second coming of the 1998 Starr Report.

So … what actually gets shut down?  

Well, The Smithsonian.  The National Zoo (flash back to 2013 when they turned the Panda Cam off, people).  The National Park Service (although roughly one-third of the nation’s parks somehow managed to remain open during the brief shutdown that took place back in January).

Technically, nine government agencies are supposed to “shutter” in the event of a shutdown – Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury – however many of their employees deemed “essential” will not face furloughs.

All told, of the more than 2.1 million full-time federal employees, approximately 400,000 would face temporary furloughs.

And (of course) when the shutdown is over all of these employees get paid for the time they missed …

(Click to view)

(Via: The White House)

So … with Trump and Senate Democrats poised to spend the Christmas holidays bickering over who shut down the government, you can rest secure (annoyed?) in the knowledge that the looming fiscal collapse of the American Republic is continuing unabated.

Like, not missing a beat … 

One final note?  Back in August 2015 – a few weeks before a threatened shutdown during the second term of former president Barack Obama – this news site argued that congress should stop the perpetual dysfunction associated with passing stopgap spending resolutions and produce an annual budget beginning on the first day of the year.

“This is no way to run a government – and is part of an effort to keep the true size of the D.C. behemoth from taxpayers,” we wrote at the time. “The federal government imposes taxes on individuals and businesses based on fiscal years which begin on January 1 and end on December 31.  We would humbly submit it hold itself to the same standard.”

Indeed …

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