While I still don’t see it as terribly likely that we’re going to have a government shutdown, the Democrats are making plenty of noise about it. In particular, Senator Bernie Sanders (who’s not actually a Democrat, because actual Democrats aren’t quite socialist enough for his tastes) has delivered an op-ed for the Washington Post where he pleads with the Republicans not to shut the government down. Wait… what?
I do not know why President Trump and the Republican Party — which controls the White House, the Senate and the House — are so willing to shut down the government. Maybe they think it will be good for them politically. Maybe they believe the chaos created by a government shutdown would be a welcome distraction from the ongoing Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Whatever the motives of the Republican leadership, one thing is clear: A government shutdown would be disastrous for the American people.
Ah, yes. A tried and true tactic from any good class on productive debate and negotiations. Always open up with an insult, just to make sure your opponent is in a good mood and ready to come to some reasonable accommodation. Rather than simply citing a difference of opinion over policy, Sanders comes straight out the gate saying there must be a political motive or a need to “distract” everyone so the President doesn’t get hauled off to prison for selling the country to Vladimir Putin. Well played, Bernie.
Sanders does eventually get around to talking about spending priorities, but it sounds more like a list of demands from a hostage taker than anything else. Less money for the military, more for entitlement programs and domestic spending, and don’t even suggest that the GOP should expect anything in exchange for amnesty for nearly a million new Democratic voters. Then he gets down to the final demands of how things have to be, otherwise, the Democrats will not support the plan and they will, um…. force the Republicans to shut the government down?
The American people are increasingly disgusted with a government that protects the interests of the wealthy and the powerful, while ignoring the needs of the vulnerable. The U.S. government must do more than provide huge tax breaks to billionaires, callously deport young people, greatly expand military spending, end net neutrality, deny the reality of climate change and threaten to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and nutrition programs. We must pass a budget agreement that addresses the needs of Americans and not just billionaire campaign contributors.
First a bit of history. When your party holds the White House and the final veto authority for any massive spending bills, but the opposition party makes demands that you won’t go along with, you have historically blamed the opposition party. That’s how it happened in 95, then again going into 96 and yet again in 2013. But now, the GOP holds not only the White House, but the majority in both legislative chambers. That means they won enough elections to set the agenda. You can certainly negotiate to get some of your priorities in there as well, but if you just stamp your foot and say you won’t play ball, then you’re the one shutting the government down, sir.
I realize that the media has tended to have one formula for determining who is responsible for a shutdown: it’s the GOP’s fault, no matter what the balance of power looks like. And Sanders is no fool. He’ll play that media bias angle for all it’s worth. But at some point, we have to call out the blatant double standard on display here. You can’t eat your cake and have it too, Senator Sanders. You made these rules long ago and now it’s time to live by them. If the government shuts down, then it’s you and your liberal friends who did it.
In case you want to see Sanders in action on this subject, here’s part of his recent speech in the Senate where he basically blames conservatives for all the ills of the world. And his hair looks marvelous.