What?! The gov­ern­ment shut down? Not ac­cord­ing to your pay stub

The Southern Berks News - - OPINION - Jerry Shenk Colum­nist

The gov­ern­ment shut down? Most peo­ple didn’t even no­tice.

It must be true, though, be­cause shut­down ma­nia has con­sumed ABC CBS NBC CNN NY TIMES WA PO. The gen­er­ally-im­per­cep­ti­ble shut­down in­volves con­gres­sional Democrats’ de­ter­mi­na­tion to deny Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fund­ing for his win­ning cam­paign pledge to build walls on por­ous, eas­ily-trans­gressed sec­tions of Amer­ica’s south­ern bor­der.

Iron­i­cally, Democrats now op­pose fund­ing bor­der walls which, in 2006, most con­gres­sional Democrats voted to build. Then — like now — the pub­lic wanted of­fice­hold­ers to im­prove Amer­i­can bor­der se­cu­rity.

Be­cause walls do not in­con­ve­nience le­gal im­mi­grants, this lat­est shut­down puts Democrats in the un­en­vi­able po­si­tion of de­fend­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Con­gres­sional Democrats have ca­pit­u­lated to anti-Trump re­sis­tance fer­vor, be­liev­ing, no mat­ter how im­plau­si­bly, that clo­sure won’t im­pli­cate them.

Al­ready fac­ing the ex­is­ten­tial threats of Amer­i­can pros­per­ity and a so-far suc­cess­ful Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Democrats fool­ishly chose the im­pulses of their in­flamed base over com­mon sense.

Amer­i­cans who know shut­downs aren’t re­ally shut­downs have be­come mostly in­dif­fer­ent to the Democrats’ shut­down the­ater.

Es­sen­tial gov­ern­ment func­tions al­ways con­tinue un­in­ter­rupted — this time most were al­ready funded — so the stakes are rather triv­ial.

But, con­text is every­thing. In 2015, Democrats threat­ened to shut down gov­ern­ment if Planned Par­ent­hood, the na­tion’s largest abor­tion­ist, wasn’t ap­pro­pri­ated $500 mil­lion in tax­payer money.

One as­sumes, then, that Demo­cratic pri­or­i­ties de­mand gov­ern­ment shut­downs over fund­ing non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions with shady his­to­ries rather than at­tend­ing to le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties like na­tional sovereignty, bor­der se­cu­rity and pub­lic safety.

We know the shut­down is a “cri­sis,” only be­cause the #Re­sis­tance at ABCCBSNBCCNNNYTIMESWAPO de­clared one only min­utes af­ter most of the gov­ern­ment re­sumed op­er­a­tions fol­low­ing the five-day Christ­mas hia­tus.

A cri­sis? For whom? The most re­cent some­what-no­tice­able shut­down, last­ing 16 days, oc­curred in Oc­to­ber 2013. Democrats and their col­lec­tive me­dia mega­phone blamed Repub­li­cans.

But, only 13 months later, 2014 elec­tions “saw sweep­ing gains by the Re­pub­li­can Party in the Se­nate, House, and in nu­mer­ous gu­ber­na­to­rial, state, and lo­cal races.

The Repub­li­cans gained con­trol of the Se­nate for the first time since 2006, and in­creased their ma­jor­ity in the House.” Re­pub­li­can in­flu­ence in Wash­ing­ton and state capi­tals hadn’t been as great since 1928.

In re­al­ity, there are no prac­ti­cal rea­sons why gov­ern­ment should shut down, even par­tially. For years, Se­nate Repub­li­cans have been try­ing to en­act a law stip­u­lat­ing how the gov­ern­ment would op­er­ate in case of bud­get dis­agree­ments.

A 2013 floor vote on an amend­ment for an “au­to­matic con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion” spec­i­fy­ing that, if an ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill wasn’t signed into law, af­fected pro­grams would run at ex­ist­ing spend­ing lev­els for 120 days, af­ter which spend­ing would be cut by 1 per­cent, fol­lowed by an­other 1 per­cent cut ev­ery 90 days un­til new fund­ing was ap­proved.

A near party-line vote, with Repub­li­cans in fa­vor and Democrats op­posed, de­feated the amend­ment. Even tiny spend­ing cuts are anath­ema to elected Democrats who con­sider re­dis­tribut­ing tax­payer money to be guar­an­tors of their sinecures.

But, don’t panic. If, like most Amer­i­cans, you haven’t no­ticed one and want the truth about shut­downs, check your paystubs.

If fed­eral taxes are with­held, the gov­ern­ment is open.

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