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Outsiders vs. Insiders: A government shutdown is the best thing that could happen to the GOP

Many a conservative’s jaw was agape as details leaked on the new budget agreement put together by Republican and Democrat congressional leaders this week. In short, Democrats got pretty much whatever they asked for and President Trump got practically none of his requests. Meanwhile, the arrogant and useless Speaker Paul Ryan touted how the GOP managed to get a few billion more in defense spending without offering a corresponding increase in domestic outlays.

Big deal. The tone deafness of official Washington is staggering. No matter how many elections are held or Trump tweet shutdownwhich party holds the majorities in Congress the spending continues. Most congressmen and senators from both parties haul out the federal credit card with about as much reluctance as drunken sailors on liberty leave in a brothel.

As the past few months have amply demonstrated, the parties haggle over smaller matters like administration personnel appointments and what federal programs to emphasize but the spending remains the same. And correspondingly, so does the deficit.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports the bad news, “The fiscal 2017 spending plan looks a lot like past spending legislation. It leaves out many top conservative priorities as well as President Trump's requests.

“As examples, it does not strip out taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, a women's health and abortion provider. The legislation excludes language that would withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, another conservative priority.

“It does not include a penny for the southern border wall that was at the center of Trump's campaign agenda, despite a request from Trump to include the funding. The legislation also leaves in place Obama-era financial reform language the GOP has long criticized as burdensome.”

One brief glance at the spending betrayal should leave everyone stunned or nauseated – or both. With presidential campaigns now lasting nearly two years prior to every national election, you almost must conclude it doesn’t matter one iota which party holds the White House when it comes to spending.

Of course it counts a whole lot for just about everything else, such as judicial appointments and foreign policy, but without a wholesale change in the makeup of Congress and its leadership the backroom behind closed doors deals will continue.

Many will point the finger at President Trump for this latest failure but the blame mostly lies in the laps of Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. After all, they’re the ones who handle the numbers and field the demands from the opposition party. They carry around big binders of material and make it seem like they’re really doing something meaningful…but what?

And face it, Democrats have mastered the art of playing “chicken” with their feckless Republican counterparts. It’s gotten to the point where all the Democrats have to do is whisper “shutdown” and the majority party cowers like a litter of two week-old puppies before their mother.

As would be expected, conservatives are angry. W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner reports, “Conservatives have been bothered by what they see as a lack of gumption in Republican leadership for over a decade. Trump wasn't the most ideologically conservative candidate, but the rank-and-file Right embraced him as a fighter who would punch Democrats in the nose.

“Conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh said of the Washington political establishment Monday, ‘[T]he Republicans just don't stand up to 'em. That much is abundantly clear. Which is why Trump was elected.’”

For its part the White House (through spokesman Sean Spicer) claimed they were fortunate to even be able to secure some additional defense spending and money for border enforcement in fiscal year 2017, since Congress and Obama should have already locked it up last year. Instead Congress passed a continuing resolution last December pushing the issue back to the end of April. Now, with this action, the big budget fight supposedly shifts to fiscal year 2018.

If I was a betting man – and I am on occasion – I would wager the house that the Republican leadership will cave again in September. Why? If they are unwilling to make a stand now, what’s going to change between today and the fall?

Not a thing. As long as the Democrats can threaten Republicans with a government shutdown, spineless politicians like Ryan and McConnell will run and hide to avoid it. At some point Republicans will be forced to call the Democrats’ bluff and have a shutdown of sufficient length to at least get the conversation going. It may take a month to do the trick…or longer.

If it ever happens polls would probably show Republicans taking the brunt of the anger, but the American public can’t have it both ways. In every election cycle surveys indicate people are primarily concerned about the economy and jobs and most Americans agree the government needs to balance its budget, yet when someone in Washington actually proposes to do something to further those goals they’re labeled as obstructionists and borderline traitors.

If you don’t believe it, just ask Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz stood athwart the leadership of both parties and President Obama in 2013 and took a virtual public relations scourging because of it. Yet now in the eyes of many Cruz looks principled and all the others appear weak and complacent.

Without a real shutdown to expose the impasse, nothing will change. Ross Kaminsky of The American Spectator wrote, “[D]o the people of the United States really give a rat’s posterior if the government ‘shuts down’? People cared so little last time that Barack Obama closed the World War II Memorial just to make people feel some pain, a move that backfired spectacularly. Whatever anti-GOP short-term movement in the polls occurred reversed itself rapidly.

“And this time, Republicans would, more credibly than at any time in recent memory, be able to argue that a shutdown is the fault of intransigent Democrats.”

In the passion of the moment people forget Republicans gained seats in 2014 after 2013’s shutdown. Why would they suffer now?

On the other hand, if history is a guide, the American public’s outrage over this budget betrayal will be brief and most likely gone by next week or whenever Congress begins taking up the new GOP healthcare bill or tax reform.

The media will similarly switch to focus on whatever Trump tweets out about some foreign country or if Ivanka Trump does something to draw attention away from the crisis of the hour.

Like distracted grade schoolers, journalists are unable to remember anything for more than a few seconds. They’re like a 6-year-old t-baller in right field, spinning around, picking grass, playing with their shoe laces or swatting at insects – anything except paying mind to what’s going on in front of them.

Unfortunately for us, the public at large doesn’t seem a whole lot better. More than likely people will again be so frustrated with all of this they’ll tune out completely, dismissing the system as hopelessly broken only to be wooed back to participation starting about Labor Day next year (skipping the primaries, of course). The parties will make their pitch for electing or re-electing congressmen and senators, lots of TV ads will forecast doom and the election will come and go with one party likely gaining and the other losing.

The only thing that will break this political monotony is a government shutdown. At least then everyone is forced to pay attention. Not even the election of President Trump broke the trend. One can only hope he will come to his senses before September and lay it on the line for Ryan, McConnell and the GOP “centrists” who are damming up the process.

Should Trump make a stand – and the government shuts down – it will likely be the best thing to ever happen to the GOP in the long run. Why? The Democrats’ real priorities will be exposed. Things might change. People will recognize there’s a difference in the parties. And finally maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a government that is worth supporting.

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Message from Flyover Country

Most of us Deplorable Rubes in Flyover Country view a government shutdown as a good thing, if for no other reason than it constitutes evidence of a backbone in some of the usually Spineless Wonders we elect to represent us. The reason Republicans often bear the brunt of our anger when things don't go well in Washington is that even when in the majority, their fear of being blamed causes them to cave to the Bolsheviks ("Democrats") leaving us feeling betrayed. We may feel anger toward the Bolsheviks, but when the Republicans act like Mensheviks, we feel both angry and betrayed, which is a more caustic emotional brew than simple anger. Now that the "Democratic" Party has embraced Soviet-style Communism blended with self-hating Nihilism, the continued existence of the American Republic itself is at stake. My message to Republican lawmakers is this: Be more afraid of capitulating to those who would consign the United States to fiscal and moral oblivion than of shutting the government down by standing up for your principles (if you have any)! Nobody outside the Beltway cares if the government shuts down for a while, anyway.