Of course, it’s really not a shutdown, just a slowdown—more on that below. And in our constitutional system the states, not the feds, are the primary line of government. The states will still be around to help us through.
And neither story comes to grips with the truth: If we have to endure the full force of Obamacare, it will be a far greater, and far longer lasting, disaster than any temporary federal slowdown.
One of the two stories is “House Pushes Closer to Federal Shutdown.” The e-version is “Budget Fight: GOP Refuses to Drop Assault on Health Law.” It originated at the Washington Post. As both titles suggest, it is written to blame everything on House Republicans. No mention of President Obama’s unprecedented refusal to negotiate. Prior Congresses and presidents have always been willing to give a little to come to a deal. The Obama position has been “My way or the highway.”
Actually, the House Republicans have been quite moderate about this whole affair. They have repeatedly passed appropriation bills. They have asked only to de-fund one program and have not asked for any other significant budget cuts. (With a $17 trillion deficit, you have to ask “Why not?”) Very moderate, in the overall scheme of things.
A second story, originating at the Los Angeles Times, is entitled “Federal Shutdown Would be Monumental,” but its on-line version is “Federal Officials Warn of Shutdown’s Effects.” Again, both headlines reveal the co-authors’ goal: To panic people—just like they tried to scare us about the sequester.
Would a federal slowdown really be so bad? Social security and other entitlements will continue to flow. Truly vital services will continue. The military and other federal workers will get their back pay. (Anyway, House Republicans stand willing to pass a military appropriations bill at any time.)
Yes, some unconstitutional federal programs will pause. There might be a delay, for example, in grants to promote political correctness or to study the mating habits of apes. But that’s a good thing. Yes, The national parks will close, but for most of them the season’s pretty much over anyway.
Is anyone really horrified at the prospect of, say, not being about to reach an IRS bureaucrat on the telephone?
Will the slowdown hurt the economy? I’m not so sure. If the slowdown reduces the deficit or keeps money in the private economy, it might help. If it forces federal regulators to take a holiday, on balance that might help, too. After all, we’ll still have state regulators available to deal with egregious situations.
For this constitutionalist and fiscal conservative, the stakes are “Obamacare or temporary slowdown?” Given that choice, I’ll take the slowdown any day.
Latest posts by Rob Natelson (see all)
- Constitution 101: Originalist Research Guide Updated - October 3, 2016
- What “Taxes” Are (And Aren’t) Under the Constitution, and the Implications for Obamacare - March 27, 2016
- What Does the Constitution Say About Federal Land Ownership? - February 10, 2016