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Winning In A Government Shutdown

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Grim news looms at the beltway on Friday as the U.S. federal government will officially shutdown if the House and the Senate cannot reconcile their budget differences.  Both House Speaker John Boeher (R, OH) and Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) have been in talks with the president to resolve the issue to no avail at an agreeable compromise.  Since the fall, the congress has kept the government funded by passing temporary resolutions, seven so far, allowing federal agencies to stay afloat.  Although, after this week, Democrats in the Senate and the president are saying no more, calling for anymore temporary resolutions to be voted down by the senate or vetoed by the president.

Budget logistics are complicated and not fun to explain, wonk work often puts people to sleep.  The story moves like this, the Democratic congress did not pass a budget last fall.  This allowed the Democrats to strategically not make hard choices for the midterm elections.  That allowed for the newly controlled Republican House to make crucial decisions about cuts, which is what they campaigned on.

With a new spring in their step, the House wanted $100 billion in cuts first.  Then, they dropped down to $61 billion.  In addition to the cuts, there were certain “policy riders,” which planned to defund planned parenthood, National Public Radio, cuts in pell grants, and defunds the healthcare bill and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.  Naturally, the Democratic controlled senate opposed these cuts and would not accept the $61 billion offer; oddly enough that was less than the $73 billion in cuts that President Obama requested.

As of now, the compromise looks to be between $33-34 billion, although Speaker Boehner is still adamant amount keeping the “riders.” Sadly, a compromise will probably not come in time to not shutdown the government.  The debate rages about who will be blamed for the shutdown.  When the government was shutdown in 1995 by the clan of Newt Gingrich, the Republicans were blamed.  This time could be different.  It’s all how the story is spun?  Did the government shutdown because of the Republican refusal to give up the riders?  Was it the fault of Democrats for not offering more cuts?  Should the president have gotten involved earlier?

In the end, it will probably depend on your party affiliation to decide who wins.  One thing is for sure, when the government shutdowns, federal paychecks do not go out, and Washington D.C. pauses, no one wins.

To read more commentary by John Stang check out his blog called “The Independent Internationalist.”  Also check out his radio show on WRKE 100.3 FM, also online at wrke.org, which airs on Tuesdays from 1-3 pm.