Six Sharp Takes on a Government Shutdown

Six Sharp Takes on a Government Shutdown

REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

As discussions to avoid a government shutdown go down to the wire and the blame game heats up, here are six interesting takes on what it all means: 

It’s a Trap! Democrats Should Learn the GOP’s Lesson from 2013: D.C. Democrats may be confident that the public will blame a shutdown on Republicans who control the White House and Congress. “But the lessons Republicans learned — the hard way — during the 2013 shutdown fight suggest that Democrats should tread carefully, lest they alienate both their political base and the broader public in the months leading up to the midterm elections,” writes Michael Steel, who was House Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary during that previous fight.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Steel warns that Democrats may be falling into a trap in pursuing protections of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, much as Republicans did in 2013 when they sought to repeal Obamacare. The party’s most passionate base may not be placated by anything other than complete victory, while voters beyond that base may not feel intensely enough about DACA to support a shutdown. “Considering that Democrats’ hopes for midterm gains depend primarily on making inroads in red states, they cannot afford to turn off these voters.”

No, This Time Is Different: On the surface, this shutdown fight might look like some other congressional showdowns we’ve been through in recent years, writes CNBC’s John Harwood. But the differences here outweigh the similarities. “Republicans in 2011 and 2013 withheld votes in pursuit of goals that were divisive, partisan and quixotic. Democrats are withholding votes now in pursuit of popular goals embraced by both parties,” Harwood argues. “That reflects a core difference between the two parties. Overwhelmingly reliant on white voters, Republicans are more homogenous and ideologically zealous. Democrats are more diverse and interested in compromise.”

This Is All a Monumental Waste: “Congress’s utter dysfunction is wasting the taxpayers’ money and depriving taxpayers of the functional government their dollars have paid for,” writes The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. And this messy process has to get fixed, maybe by switching to a two-year budget. “The repeated use of continuing resolutions in lieu of a budget means agencies and departments (including the military) don’t get the full year of funding they were promised. (Try building three-fourths of an airplane.) Rather than budgeting and paying appropriate rates for goods and services to be used over the course of a year, the federal government must do so in increments of a few weeks. In essence, it is buying bread by the slice rather than purchasing loaves of bread at the wholesale rate.”

Our Politicians Are Failing Us: “The shutdown reminds us how the current political environment is failing to attend to the needs of the broadest part of the American public,” says Mark Hamrick,'s senior economic analyst. “Even when short-term solutions are agreed to, the never-ending game of ‘kick-the-can’ does nothing to either inspire faith in government or address long-term problems, such as the debt, entitlement funding, health care, immigration, etc.”

While the Pols Bicker, Here’s Who Gets Hurt: “Half a million federal employees make less than $50,000 a year, they’re living paycheck to paycheck,” Joyce Warner, executive director of the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, told Politico. “This can reverberate and cause people long-term financial anxiety. It doesn’t take much to throw people under the bus financially.” And only 15 percent of full-time, permanent federal workers are in the D.C. area, so the effects will be felt nationwide.

What a Way to Mark the One-Year Anniversary of Trump Taking Office: “The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency is coming to a close with administration officials exhausted and uncertain after two extraordinary weeks of chaos, even by the standards of this White House,” Politico’s Andrew Restuccia writes. Staffers are worn down, and organizational changes are coming as some senior officials head for the exits, or consider leaving. Restuccia: “The drama underlines a fundamental truth about Trump’s presidency: The faces may change, but it seems the storyline never does.”