Do we care if the government shuts down?
Houston, we have shutdown. At least as I write this there is a shutdown of the Federal government. Is that really a bad thing? Despite the doom projections from mainstream left media, a shutdown does not cause a government default. There is still money coming in and the government won’t default on its debt until it stops paying it. That will be a conscious choice, not an involuntary one. Essential services will still be performed.
Since I write this a few days ahead of publication, the situation may have changed by the time you see this. It doesn’t matter. The shutdown is presumably over a “budget approval.” Don’t be fooled. It has nothing to do with a budget and everything to do with “temporarily” conducting business as usual in Washington. The issue is not a budget, but a continuing resolution. The issue is merely a symptom of a much larger problem.
Politicians from both parties are guilty of dereliction of duty. One of the provisions of the Constitution is to prepare and approve a budget. That has only happened once, by accident, in the last five years. In the meantime, the real issue is blithely ignored.
The federal government’s fiscal year began on Oct. 1 for as long as I can remember. It did not magically change and surprise Congress. They have had at least six months to develop a budget, yet here we are again discussing continuing resolutions. Meanwhile, Congress wasted its time away with monstrously lengthy bills that no one has read, aided, abetted, and encouraged by the President. Immigration “reform” comes to mind.
It is apparent that most legislators are more intent on increasing their political power than in listening to their constituents and doing their Constitutionally mandated (and limited) duties. We all know Harry Reid is lost at the liberal Kool-Aid© bar and has been for some time. Apparently John McCain and Lindsey Graham can be found there also. Maybe that is why there is such outrage over Ted Cruz. He scares the you know what out of the “moderates” and liberals by exposing their methods and energizing the conservative base.
Oh, one other thing has occupied their time. A considerable amount of time has been spent investigating rogue government agencies like IRS and NSA for wrongdoing. At least this is a valid use of time, but it would be helpful if something productive would come of it.
Here is the real issue. We have a debt of nearly $17 trillion. The IRS collected $1.9 trillion from personal income taxes in 2013. The current average bond rate is about 2.4 percent. The tipping point for rates when all of collected personal income tax revenue must go to pay our debt is 11 percent. We will never get there, will we? Check the history books. In the early 1980s, the prime rate was over 20 percent, mortgage rates were 18 percent, and 10 year bonds were in the area of 15-16 percent. It was tough then, potentially devastating now. The government has been buying its own debt via the Federal Reserve to the tune of $85 billion per month. That is quantitative easing, and when this bubble bursts it will make the real estate bubble look like a minor blip.
Despite this, our legislators don’t want to change. There is no appetite to make the changes needed in entitlement programs and wasteful spending. They would rather add new programs that add even more to the debt.
It is not just the federal government that has been irresponsible. State governments are, too, so much so that several counties have started secession actions. Colorado was the first with eight northern counties voting to secede over new state gun control laws. Since then, rural counties in Maryland are taking the same action. Most recently, two northern California county Boards of Supervisors, in Modoc and Siskiyou, voted to start secession. Six neighboring counties have votes scheduled for October. Who’s next? Maybe northern Nevada should consider getting out from under Clark County rule.
These are drastic actions, no doubt. Unfortunately, that seems anymore to be what is required to even get a lawmaker’s attention, to say nothing of getting them to listen.
It is time to be proactive. If you are unhappy with your lawmaker, call or email. They may not acknowledge your contact, but most (except Reid) keep tabs on constituent input on an issue. Let them know repeatedly that you are fed up with status quo.
Tom Riggins’ column appears every other Friday in Perspectives.