Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shutdown! Politics

Unless the Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement, the government will shut down on March 5th. . . click. Right now, more Americans (30% to 24%) blame the Democrats for the pending shutdown. This is a bit of a shocker for the Democrats, but it makes sense. And here’s why.

Let’s start with the obvious. The public is angry about the deficit. They identify the deficit as the biggest issue facing the country and they are demanding spending cuts. This desire is so strong that 58% of the public would rather have the government shutdown than continue with last year’s spending. In fact, only 27% want to keep last year’s spending levels (6% want to raise it), whereas 61% want cuts. Thus, the momentum is on the side of the cutters. And, as The Hill notes, this has translated into a shock for the Democrats, as the “Democrats do not enjoy the tactical advantage that some assumed they have.”

The reason for this is simple. Whereas the Republicans are working hard to come up with spending cuts, and admit they know they must work with the Democrats, the Democrats are acting like children. Indeed, while Paul Ryan was saying this:

“We will have to negotiate. Look, we're not looking for a government shutdown. But at the same time, we're also not looking at rubber-stamping these really high, elevated spending levels that Congress blew through the joint two years ago.”
The Democrats were offering NOTHING in the way of their own cuts. To the contrary, they spent the week attacking every single Republican cut. Some cuts they called “schizophrenic” by arguing that individual line item cuts went against Republican policies (like cuts in defense spending). Others they argued would destroy the American way of life blah blah blah. Finally, they accused the Republicans of “indiscriminate budget cutting.” Oh no!

The public isn’t buying this anymore because everyone knows you can’t double a budget in one year and not create a ton of waste that can't come right back out. And because the Democrats refuse to acknowledge this and are not offering cuts, several political analysts have observed that the Republicans are holding the political high ground.

But even beyond the Democrats' failure to engage in actual discussions of budget cuts, something more is going on here. I would suggest the Democrats have lost the public’s trust on this issue. Why? Because they’re being dishonest. For several weeks now, the Democrats have trotted out transparent and dishonest scare tactics regarding the shutdown. Check out this quote from Obama:
"People should be careful about, you know, being too loose in terms of talking about a government shutdown because this has — this is not an abstraction. You know, people don't get their Social Security checks. They don't get their veterans payments. Basic functions shut down. And that also would have an adverse effect on our economic recovery."
Of course, nothing in this statement is true. First, “checks” are not mailed anymore, payments are made electronically, and they will go out no matter what. Secondly, in the event of a shutdown, Obama will have wide discretion to determine what to keep open by declaring employees essential. Clinton kept 12,000 Department of Agriculture workers on the job in this manner. If essential personnel from DOD or Homeland Security or Justice or the State Department or anywhere else stay away from work, it will be because Obama decided they are not essential, not because of the shutdown. Some government agencies with special funding, like the US Mint and the Post Office, will even continue to operate like nothing happened.

But the Democrats and their MSM allies keep repeating these lies and adding things like the specter of garbage piling up in parking lots, parks being closed and zoo animals left to die -- which isn't true and they know it. But these are really bottom of the barrel arguments. At least, they would be, except for one more argument just raised:

Says spokeswhiner Carol Bonosaro for the Senior Executive Association, a collection of ultra rich government managers, this will force their poor, poor members to have to decide which of their employees are “essential” and which are “nonessential”! Oh no! Whines Bonosaro, this will lead to “morale issues.” Doesn’t that just break your heart? Better get the suicide hotline on speed dial in the event of layoffs!

The public ain’t buying it. Trying to avoid spending cuts by threatening us with benefit cuts that won’t happen and claims of morale issues among government employees is a loser. It’s like threatening to hold your breath until you die. Come to think of it, maybe they should try that next? Good ahead you lazy, abusive jerks, make my day.

*** Update *** There are reports they've reached a deal to fund the government for two more weeks in exchange for $4 billion in cuts during those two weeks. The speculation is that this deal will give Republicans the upper hand for the final deal as well because the $2 billion a week may become the framework for a long term deal.... that's in line with the Republicans' promise of $100 billion in cuts this year.


DUQ said...

I say shut it down until they get the deficit back to zero!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I like the way you think! We should lock them in a room too until they work it out! :-)

CrispyRice said...

I agree - shut it down and don't reopen! LOL!

Actually, funny enough, I have a friend who is (now) a contractor for the gov't. He is one of those few people who would be told not to work and then (unlike "real" Fed employees) not get back-pay either. He suddenly has an opinion about the shutdown, LOL.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, There is no doubt that some people will get hurt. But this is a huge problem for society and it needs to be fixed. And if you make your living from the government, then you need to realize that this is part of that.

Fortunately though, it sounds like the Democrats are beginning to cave in on the whole issue now that the public hasn't jumped up to support them.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that so far, the Republicans have played this one rather well. They've been sweetly offering to negotiate, as long as substantial cuts are made, and it's the Democrats who are refusing to budge at all and be reasonable. That's what lies behind the recent poll that said a majority would blame Democrats, rather than Republicans, if the government were to be shut down. So maybe we should be hoping for 1995 to repeat itself.

patti said...

shut-it! (as they like to say to us)

seriously. do it. i'm in.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I think that's right. I think the Republicans are showing a real seriousness in their conduct, whereas the Democrats are throwing a temper tantrum. Compare that with 1992, when the Republicans were out there relishing a shutdown in all of their public statements.

With the serious (adult) tone of the Republicans, the clear need to fix the deficit, and the childish tone of the Democrats, this is a winner for the Republicans.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, LOL! I'm in too! :-)

T_Rav said...

By the way, the House has just passed a bill that would fund the government for the next two weeks--presumably, based on the vote (335-91), with some of those spending cuts in place, though I haven't checked it out yet. Now it goes to the Senate.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, That's the one they're talking about with the $4 billion in cuts for two weeks. If they manage to get $2 billion in cuts per week, then the Republicans are really headed in the right direction on this.

Ed said...

I like the $2 billion a week for this year, but I want to see more in the future. They should be able to take a trillion out of this budget.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I do too. But this is an excellent start that fits with the freshmen GOP class's promise of $100 billion in cuts right away.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, Governor Walker just unveiled his budget and it includes $1.5 billion in cuts -- which is impressive for a small state like Wisconsin. If governors can do these things, then certainly Congress can do them!

Unknown said...

At last. The Republicans are learning how to play the game. It's good to be right, but now they're learning how to look right. As we've said before, the appearance is as important as the reality.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's one of the things that's been impressing me the most, that this group of Republicans seem to get the PR aspect of politics. It's about time!

Combining good Republican ideas with good selling could really lead to significant gains. And should help us avoid prior disasters.

T_Rav said...

Ed, I think in some ways it may be the best approach. The Democrats are finally having their sneaky, incremental game played against them, and it is sweet.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Ed, I am truly impressed with this latest crop of Republicans. These guys actually know what they're doing and have been excellent at using the Democrats' games against them.

I'm really enjoying this whole show!

StanH said...

That Rasmussen poll the other day was damning of the democrats, as too where the public is on spending…”SHUT IT DOWN!”

I saw Paul Ryan on Hannity, Monday, and he had a nice pie chart that exposes the hooey that is a government shutdown. It’s broken into “discretionary and non-discretionary.” The only part of the budget that’s effected is discretionary which accounts for 40-45%, the big Kahuna “non-discretionary” …will continue to attempt to fill rat holes, wasting money at a breathless pace.

I do agree, our boys seem to be understanding the theater that is politics. Politics will not abide a vacuum. Either you’ll create your own narrative, or the MSM will do it for you. You know how they did Gingrich as, “Scrooge,” and “W” never, ever counter punch establishing a new tone in Washington, don’t you know, one where the press sets a false narrative, and describes you as Satan himself. We must stay in the arena of conservative ideas, and counter punch. We’ll see.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I think it will be imperative that we cut entitlement spending along with discretionary spending if we're ever going to fix the Washington mess. I'm happy to say that many Republicans seem to have good ideas on this and people are finally listening. So I have high hopes at the moment that they will turn this thing around and get it fixed.

You're right about the vacuum, if you don't put out your own message, the MSM will do it for you.... or do it too you, as the case may be. So far at least, these guys get that, and that is a relief. For years, the Republicans just stood there and assumed people would see through the rhetoric and give them credit for their actions, but that's not how it works. So I'm glad these guys finally get that.

BevfromNYC said...

Will we actually notice if the Gov. shuts down? I mean, except for SS checks, what will really happen on a local level?

An interesting poll results from the very liberal Daily New poll published last Friday.

Question: If the government shuts down, whom do you blame?

67% Democrats all they do is spend, spend spend driving up our deficit

16% Republicans all they want to do is slash programs for people who are not rich

3% Obama he hasn't done enough to forge a compromise

14% All of the above

This isn't a scientific poll, but it is very telling.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think that's the problems the Democrats are having, (1) no one believes we will really feel it if the government shuts down, and (2) if they do close truly essential services, then people are going to be very angry at the gamesmanship -- since Obama can decide what to keep open, and (3) everyone gets that the Democrats are at fault for causing this problem -- and holding their breath now and obstructing any solution will not endear them to the public.

In terms of the poll, I'm seeing similar polls at other news outlets. And while I know they aren't scientific, they at least confirm that the left is not mobilized on this issue. If they were, I think you would see the numbers reversed as thousands of liberals ran around trying to send a message through these polls.

Ed said...

T_Rav, It's totally sweet to see the Republicans turn the tables on the Democrats. I saw earlier too, the Democrats are all upset at being run over in the committees too, just like they'd done to the Republicans in the last couple years. Turn about is fair play. Lol!

Andrew, This does seem like a different type of Republican from what we've had in the past. I hope they keep it up and I hope we add more Republicans like this in the next two elections.

Tennessee Jed said...

Briefly away, got a chance to glance at today's posts. The polling numbers here are extremely encouraging As always, each side has it's base -- it's "choir" if you will, but it seems the good old "independants" are clearly understanding the stark reality as regards to the obscene spending.

While both sides have been guilty in the past, The Repubs seem to have gotten the message and are trying to do the right thing. How many times have we seen liberal opinion writers, and even liberal pols have no answer other than to try and point out the both sides have participated in the past? Don't they realize, people know that. What the public is looking for is honesty in addressing this mess, and only one side in now taking steps to tackle the problems. This is encouraging indeed, in a macabre sort of way.

Joel Farnham said...

I think the majority of the people understand that we make those cuts or we go the way of the dinosaur.

Dems are fighting for their survival and the usual life-savors aren't working.

What is also sweet about this, the MSM isn't being believed. The coverage is spotty at best. The MSM next will declare Democrat caving as actually winning.

What really is gratifying is the conservative Republicans are acting and looking like adults. The Democrats are acting and looking like whiny teenagers upset that the keys to the car have been taken away.

I remember the 1994 showdown. We have learned the two valuable lessons from that. First, perception can trump reality. Second, that the government presence isn't needed 24/7.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think so. I think we're seeing a real change in Republican thinking from the "let the people decide" model to those who understand you need to sell your ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. I think it is very encouraging that the Republicans seem to have gotten it and that the independents are along for the ride for once. And I agree about the "everyone did it in the past." The media and the Democrats use that as a way to argue that no one can do anything so we should keep doing it forever.

It's like a alcoholic saying, "everyone's been drunk before, so no one can tell us how to stop."

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Good points. I think the Republicans were shocked when they saw that what they were doing was twisted and that a media-created perception became the reality. I'm glad to that the Republicans won't be repeating that mistake.

And like you, I'm gratified to see the seriousness among the Republicans. Not only do they grasp the politics of this, but these seem quite serious about getting results too, not just at scoring political points. Hopefully, this will eventually lead to major cuts.

And you're right, we don't need the government running 24/7 to do what needs to be done in this country. I think people realize that too, which is why they aren't so worried about a shutdown.

Atlanta Roofing said...

Of course Nelson doesn’t want these GOP members of Congress to highlight his failure to heed the will of the people. The more they do, the better the chance he’ll lose his cushy job next year.

Post a Comment