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Shutdown? Shut Up!

 

What did Republicans get for 16 days of a government shutdown with people being hurt? We have absolutely nothing to show for it, other than a damaged brand.

– Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Former Congressman, describing 2013 shutdown

 

Thankfully, the partial Federal government shutdown, longest in U.S. history, is over – temporarily.  The government reopened with employees getting paid, but only until mid-February or a border deal is reached.  Try convincing unpaid Federal workers (80% outside Washington, DC; 800,000 furloughed) there was anything “partial” about receiving no paychecks for a month.

The central issue:  President Trump’s demand for $5+ billion taxpayer dollars for his border wall.  Democrats reminded him he promised repeatedly “Mexico will pay for it”.

Notwithstanding his recent claims the new trade deal with Mexico would cover it, Trump boasted in 2016, “We will make Mexico make a one-time payment of five to ten billion dollars” for it.

Besides, that treaty hasn’t been ratified by Congress and won’t take effect until 2022, if it is.

Most rational people (including former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who said “I am not going to pay for that f***ing wall”) agreed it was unlikely – a sovereign country surrendering billions of dollars Trump demanded.

Further eroding credibility, some Republicans argued the $5 billion price is a tiny percentage of Federal budget, so why worry?  The GOP, once-proud defender of fiscal responsibility (thus earning Moderates’ support), now believes that sum isn’t worth justifying.

But Congressional Democrats, Republicans, and Trump HAD agreed on a deal – until extremists Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh attacked him and he reneged.

The opposing team in this blame game:  Democrats.  Some have pushed extreme ideas like abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which investigates foreigners’ criminal/terrorist activity here; and promoting sanctuary cities, which allow some lawbreakers to evade ICE.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the wall “immoral”.  Calling your opponents’ positions immoral doesn’t lead to compromise solutions.  If any immigration position is immoral, it might be Trump’s policy separating 3,000 children from their parents at the border.

Democrats’ extreme stances sufficiently riled up enough American voters, worried about national security, to help elect Trump in the first place.  Illegal immigration and a wall to stop it were among his signature issues – even if a 1,900 mile border means an expensive wall Mexico won’t pay for.

Trump boasted he would be “proud to shut down the government” and “own it”.  Be careful what you wish for, Mr. President.  With polls consistently showing most Americans blamed him and his favorability ratings dropping, Trump finally capitulated.

For now, can we all agree this issue (and future ones) CANNOT hold government workers financially hostage until Congress and the President resolve them?  If so, let’s demand they negotiate in good faith, hammer out solutions, and leave government workers out of it.

If not, how many future hot-button issues could hold them hostage again, weaken our economy, and paralyze our government?  How will we ever attract smart, competent people to take government jobs?

To politicians claiming to lead us:  it’s time to “put up or shut up”.

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