UPDATE: No shutdown, check out this blog post for more.
The original post is below.
Will the federal government shut down? Democrats have been fear-mongering, claiming that a government shutdown will hurt people. According to them, the F.B.I. will stop working, Social Security checks will stop going out, and so on.
But that isn’t true. In the past, government shutdowns have NEVER done this. Check out this great political cartoon from the Examiner’s Nate Beeler:
But the government won’t shut down anyway. According to recent polls, Americans would almost equally blame both parties. Unless the polls show that a shutdown overwhelmingly benefits the Democrats, President Obama and Senate Democrats will work with the GOP-controlled House to keep the government open for business.
Which is kind of a shame, because a shutdown would be really great. Less traffic for D.C. commuters, less spending on non-essential government functions, and so on. As I’m typing this, Capitol Hill is working to avert a shutdown.
Lawmakers are bracing for another short-term resolution to keep government operating for one more week so Congress can consider a compromise spending plan that has so far been elusive and has forced the Obama administration to offer guidance to workers on what to do in the event of a shutdown.
The one-week measure, which House Speaker John Boehner says is a backup he will only “break glass” on if he has to, would exact stiff demands, and senior budget negotiators say they aren’t sure it has the votes to pass. President Obama is meeting with top-ranking members of Congress Tuesday morning to work on a plan that would make another stopgap unnecessary.
But the last-ditch deal — which is being drawn up because the House needs to allow a three-day buffer before considering a longer-term budget, pushing back a vote beyond Friday night’s deadline for a shutdown — does draw some sharp cuts. It includes $12 billion in cuts from an array of places and a funding plan to provide for the Pentagon for the next six months.
If Republicans can keep forcing cuts in the CRs, maybe the lack of a budget isn’t such a bad thing. We might get more cuts by temporarily funding the government instead of passing a budget. But still, it is the responsibility of Congress to pass a budget, prefereably one that substantially cuts spending. Writing at the Daily Caller, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin lays out the stakes:
America is barreling toward disaster. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released its analysis of the latest Obama administration budget: it is nothing but bad news. Over the next 10 years, deficits exceed 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) every year, debt in the hands of the public doubles, and the debt-to-GDP ratio rises above 87 percent. Net interest climbs to almost 20 percent of revenues — even with large tax increases — in 2020. The result: the U.S. faces having its debt downgraded beginning in 2018.
Today, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will unveil a plan to save America’s future. A lot of attention will be paid to the numbers. It cuts over $6 trillion off the Obama budget deficits. It cuts discretionary spending to 2008 levels and then caps it at that level for years. It includes a tax reform that lowers the top rate to 25 percent for both individuals and corporations.
But the most important accomplishment would be to leave the next generation a strong and robust economy — and no debt: in 2050 all federal debt would be paid off.
I love Congressman Paul Ryan, and I love his plan. What exactly does his plan do, beyond the numbers?
[It] proposes reforms to the big programs that drive spending: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. In each case, the reforms fundamentally change the debate. In particular, the budget ends the Medicaid one-size-fits-all approach by changing it to a block grant that also gives states the flexibility needed to run a Medicaid program that fits the needs of their residents. The Medicare reforms are even more dramatic. While keeping things unchanged for those in and near retirement, the future system will offer beneficiaries essentially the same options as now enjoyed by members of Congress.
So what is coming next, now that Congressman Ryan has unveiled his proposal?
A tired divide on taxes and spending, and different approaches to the spending problem: a shorter-term focus that leaves the welfare state intact versus a reform strategy that does not balance the budget as quickly, but permits it to be kept balanced by radically downsizing long-term programs.
Entitlement reform is essential. Rapid economic growth is essential. The House budget contains a vision of government that promises both and meets the nation’s obligations to the next generations.
Unfortunately, Democrats will demagogue this issue, claiming that Republicans want to take away Granny’s Medicare, even though Paul Ryan’s proposals have NOTHING to do with current Medicare recipients. He’s trying to save the program for the future in a responsible way that frees generations of Americans from a crippling national debt.