NAMAZU, Giant Japanese Catfish and Former Demigod, Now AAB Senior Analyst
EDITOR'S NOTE 2/7/2019: Well, we're now past the latest government shut down and bracing for a possible repeat. We've been here before and the Great Catfish addressed the issue back in 2013 during the Obama administration.
Editor's note 2/23/2018 : A year after the election of a new President and a Republican majority in both Houses and we still have difficulty passing a budget. The problem is still mostly the intransigence of the Democrats, but also the new problems of the RINOS starting to manifest themselves. The post below written in 2013 during the Obama Administration we found to still be instructive and perhaps a second look is in order. We done some minor updating but othrewise the psot remains as written in 2013.
Greetings American biped friends, does the "government shut down" make you angry? (We avoided that one so far during the Trump Administration9update: the first year, at this wiritng we're just coming out of the second Trump year shut down) , but the cost was a lot of letting the Democrats have their way.) Well if it doesn't, it should because no good what so ever can come of it. Already (back in the Obama Administration) we have seen the Federal government unable to even meet its obligations relative to the survivors of American soldiers killed in combat. Yet some how money is found to hire rent a cops to keep WWII vets out of a monument with no moving parts or need for attendants. The Veterans Administration, OSHA, NOAA, NASA employees in droves are laid off but towel attendants in the Congressional health clubs are not, essential personnel don't you know? (Editors note the towel attendants were eventually laid off back in 2013 but the clubs remained open, you wouldn't want your Congressman to go without his personal trainer or stair stepper machine would you? They were sacrificing having to go get their own towels.) Thousands of federal workers were going without pay during the Obama shut downs, but not the Congress or President that poised to destroy "the full faith and credit" of the United States, our way of life, economy, and place of leadership in the world.
There is no excuse for this. Even as the National Park Service paid for rent a cops and barriers to keep people out of monuments where there never was any security, electricity, or other utilities to drive home the point that the government was shut down, the treasury was taking in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. It is unfortunate that America borrows about 40 to 60 cents of every dollar in the Federal budget, but in fact we do have the cash flow to pay the interest on the loans. If the American Congress would tighten its belt just a little we could make some progress on the principal. If eventually the Congress could balance the budget and keep it balanced for a few decades or less the deficit would disappear.
Our situation (under Obama was) like that of so many upper middle class families who got involved in a life style that really could only be had by the rich and famous. They expanded past their true rather enviable budget and went into the hole on credit card debt. They thought that since their relatively high income was secure that they could afford all those monthly notes. Then they wake up one day and realize that while they still have substantial income they have no net worth. The credit cards get torn up, belts get tightened, things are inventoried and the most valuable kept, others sold off and a major portion of that once seemingly lavish income is dedicated to paying down that debt. Yet such families generally get to keep their beautiful homes, in which they are now eating a lot of canned tuna, and they usually keep their cars, but now they keep them much longer, and in fact they appear rather prosperous to the outside world. The United States is in a similar position, except we have a potential big advantage , but for the present ( Obama) administration, we should be a net exporter of oil and natural gas (Under Trump we are) . We have an economic boom on our horizon. We need to tighten our belts and permanently reform how we spend. But we have no need to default except stupidity.
So who is responsible? There is plenty of blame to go around for both parties and the (Obama) White House. The Republicans lost their opportunity to do the logical thing and simply let Obama care roll out as scheduled but on reduced funding like everything else in the budget should be. Every American knows that too many Americans literally are without affordable health care, the system needed and continues to need reform. But the Republicans get no traction out of knocking the highly flawed Obama Care program because they make it all too obvious that they have no change of any kind in mind. They represent big pharmaceuticals, big medicine, big insurance and they are all doing just fine over charging the 58% of us who do have some form of health insurance. The wise choice would have been to let it roll out and attempt reform and revision piecemeal but constantly. Of course one would hope that the Republicans would do that while designing a better replacement. That's not going to happen, but they could have reached their goal of destroying Obama care over time and frankly it is a horribly flawed program that the nation indeed would be better off without.
However, it passed back when the Congress had a different make up and its been signed into law. The Democrats refuse to take the lesson of the last round of elections that knocked out their majority. Their limousine liberal, Hollywood backers still believe that they know what is good for the people and that the people should take their medicine, even if it means the surrender of their civil liberties. The Republicans offer compromise after compromise except for their demand that Obama Care be eliminated when they don't have the votes to carry that off right now. The Republicans offer piecemeal funding to keep the essential functions of government going, but the Democrats like a bunch of spoiled brats insist that the Republicans who have a majority in one house unconditionally surrender to all of their demands. Both sides are irresponsible enough to openly talk about default like it was an option that didn't amount to national economic suicide. So who is responsible for this train wreck?
For that answer we probably should turn to the last clear chance doctrine in maritime collision law. The Captain of the ship of state is the President. He doesn't have to ask "may I" of anyone to step in and do his constitutional duty. He is the chief executive, it is his function to run the government with the budget the Congress gives him, not the one he demands. The constitution assigns the power of the purse to the Congress not to the President. But this President (Obama) is openly talking about default and openly stating that he will veto any "half way measures". So unless Congress ignores its constitutional duty and produces what this president dictates he has stated that he will cause the train wreck. Despite the fact that squabbling idiots in the Congress caused this train to start careening down the tracks, it is the President who has the last clear chance to stop the train wreck by simply nodding to the constitution that he clearly hates but is sworn to defend , picking up the phone and telling the leadership of both parties that he is ready to run the government on whatever budget they can agree on and piecemeal agreements can work for the time being. How likely is that to happen?
It is too late for the American people to do anything, even armed rebellion won't change things now. The only thing the American people can do at this late date, and they should start on it immediately is to call this event what it is "no confidence in government". It happens in the other English speaking democracies but the parliamentary systems have a separate head of state and head of government. The United States constitution vested both head of state and head of government powers in the president. The "no confidence in government" events elsewhere result in a declaration of no confidence by the head of state and new elections of all of the legislators are called for. The government runs in the mean time. The head of state in the Common wealth nations may be the Crown of Great Britain, an elected president who is only head of state while the head of government is the Prime Minister, or it might be a Governor General. The function of the head of state is not to govern, but to insure that there is a government. The daily work may be largely ceremonial but that power to convene and dismiss the legislature and call for new elections means that a government as useless and dangerous as the one the United States has now would be replaced, quickly by one willing to work together.
It is time to see that the underlying cause of the present stupidity is partly the result of a constitutional weakness. The Constitution must be amended to allow a mechanism for a vote of no confidence ending set terms for legislators and executive alike, putting the daily government functions into a trustworthy receiver ship temporarily while a new elected and representative government is formed. Don't blow this chance. If you think the present incompetent argumentative, utterly incapable government never happened before now; I invite you explore the Congressional goings on just prior to the American Civil War.
What the crisis at hand demonstrates is a gross upset in the Constitutionally designed balance of powers. Part of the problem is the unintended consequence of the fundamental change in the Senate from being an appointed body to being an elected body. Most Americans do not realize that the Senate used to be appointed to their positions by the State Legislators. So Balance of Powers meant you had a House of Representatives voted in directly by the people, district by district, and that Body holds the power of the purse; then you had a Senate, intended to give each STATE LEGISLATURE an equal voice at the Federal level; and lastly a President elected through the Electoral College, a system that gave every citizen a vote, with the states electors selecting the winner. The change to an elected Senate has some positives at first look - more power to the people, less likelihood that a corrupt state government might grant Senate seats as political favors, etc. However, given the size of the population, a State Senate race is expensive and invites patrons well beyond the citizenry. It also invites national figures who have little or not allegiance to the state in which they run - Robert Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, for example. To win a Senate seat you need near nearly national name recognition. In comparison a Representative typically originates in a district and develops a level of credibility and access with his or her constituency that a Senator will never achieve. So who are Senators loyal to? In an appointed Senate they would be locked to the dictates of the State Government. In our current situation, they are spineless and end up bound to the dictates of the party - unwilling to go to reconciliation on any of the House Bills to fund the government because it would be disloyal to the President. If the Senate took its constitutional responsibility seriously, they would take the plethora of bills to committee. It is the president who has essentially forbidden that action - a dictate well outside his authority and an affront to the Constitution. This is more about which party controls the House after the mid term elections.ReplyDelete
Namazu Responds: I agree that the Senate could and should do a lot more to avert these reoccurring sequestration crises. I also agree that the Senate would be more likely to do so if its members were still appointees of state governments. But at the end of the day the President is still both head of state and government, a situation not unlike the British crown before the Magna Carter. If the President du jour was true to the constitution and the people he would exercise his role as Head of State to rise above the squabbling houses of Congress and demand that they avoid sequestration at all costs, and announce his willingness to administer the government within whatever budget they do pass. The full faith and credit of the United States can not be sacrificed without ruin to the nation. It took a long time for the imperial presidency to evolve, but it evolved because of this flaw, the Founding Fathers didn't separate the powers of Head of State and Head of Government. They probably had a good reason at the time related to the early tendency of the states to hold the Federal Government at arms length and be selective about what Federal mandates they would follow. A strong presidency helped mitigate some of the negative effects of this basic lack of unity. But now the Presidency has evolved into an imperial office and the states are being treated like provinces, a Chief executive with the combined powers of Head of State and Government, with a veto power over the legislature no longer serves the best interests of the United States;in my humble opinion as a 3,000 year old giant catfish.- Your Pal, NamazuReplyDelete