How American is This Shutdown Fiasco?

Credit: The White House/wikimediaCredit: The White House/wikimediaDespite the fact that European governments have had their own share of fiscal crises recently they rarely shut down. Over at The Week Peter Weber has a good explanation of why this is, and what it is about the U.S. form of government that allows for the current ongoing situation in Washington D.C.:

So why don't other countries have government shutdowns?


There are a few reasons. Parliamentary democracies — like those in Europe and most former British colonies — typically have two chambers, but they don't have separate executive and legislative branches. The prime minister, or head of government, is considered a member of parliament. The party that controls parliament controls the government.

"Conceivably, a parliament could refuse to pass a budget proposed by the prime minister, but such an action would likely trigger a failure of the government and a new election," says BBC News' Zurcher. And even in the rare case where "there is a gap prior to a new government taking office, national services continue to operate."

In non-parliamentary democracies with strong executive branches, like Brazil, the president can simply keep the government running while the legislature gets its act together — sort of like in the U.S., pre-1980. Dictators have it even easier.

Weber continues, pointing out via The Washington Post's Erik Voeten that in many countries if lawmakers cannot agree on a budget it automatically reverts to the one from the year before. 

Of course, with a parliament and a constitutional monarchy one solution to a fiscal stalemate is for the monarch's representative to fire the prime minister, appoint a successor, and dissolve parliament, as was Australia's experience in 1975. 

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Dictators have it even easier.

    So what's Obama's excuse?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Same as ever: Obstrublicans.

  • Paul.||

    "Conceivably, a parliament could refuse to pass a budget proposed by the prime minister, but such an action would likely trigger a failure of the government and a new election," says BBC News' Zurcher. And even in the rare case where "there is a gap prior to a new government taking office, national services continue to operate."

    I haven't read the whole article, but what or how is he defining "shut down".

    Would you call Greece's inability to pay its workers or fund social services a shutdown? Or was the shutdown averted because another entity (Germany) handed them money?

    Also, is our federal government NOT operating national services? If 80 percent of our government is still humming at full speed, and they had to hire hundreds if not thousands of people and offer hundreds or thousands of man hours to 'disable websites', we sincerely need a redefinition of terms. Because from where I'm standing, our government hasn't shut down either. Ever... in my lifetime.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cu.....e-neither/

    Summary: Because the free-market hasn't immediately swooped in to replace Head Start during the shutdown, capitalism must be a superstition.

  • ||

    Was that written in Ye Olde English? Because I could barely make out what he was saying.

  • Warrren||

    Wow. Not going to read it but the link does say it all.

    They really don't get how business works. Or how entrepreneurs operate or the many calculations that go into starting a new company including things like:

    Will the government put out of business after I took over for them in a certain area, causing me to lose my investment?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    It's idiotic for two basic reasons:

    1) the shutdown occurred on Monday, and you really expect the market to have mobilized something this quickly?

    2) what about the possibility that, I don't know, that new ventures have to start small, if at all. There's a possibility that something has spontaneously started up that the author is just plainly unaware of.

  • JW||

    1) the shutdown occurred on Monday, and you really expect the market to have mobilized something this quickly?

    No, they don't. They're dishonest cunts looking to score cheap points in the game of politics.

    These are the people I truly wish there was a Hell for, not counting other people.

  • Paul.||

    Also, doing these 1:1 comparisons with European governments to the U.S. government is highly dubious.

    "Shutting down" (all the implications of scare quotes apply) the federal government says little to nothing of state and municipal governments which continue to operate and legislate at full speed. We have individual states that are bigger and have larger populations than some European countries. If you start to think of the layering of the federal government, state governments, county governments, and city governments as kind of 'redundant' systems, a federal shutdown almost barely raises an eyebrow.

    In some European countries, a national government "shutdown" would be a total shutdown.

  • ||

    Didn't Belgium go two years without a government? That did not appear to destroy them.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    That's with the weird European definition of 'government', which basically just means the prime minister and the cabinet, and maybe some other high-level bureaucratic-types. Many parliamentary-type countries shut down their governments all the time. Usually, Parliament shuts down, too, and they hold a snap election, but in some cases the parties in the Parliament trade alliances until they can agree on a new 'Government'.
    All the regular parts of the government keep running the way they always do. As long as the Constitution permits an ongoing renewal of funds, and none of the government agencies require a re-authorization, they can keep going indefinitely.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    T.J. Gentle, chief executive officer of Smart Furniture, an online custom furniture maker in Chattanooga, employs 250 people, has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hard-liners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1. Gentle is the embodiment of moderate, business-minded pragmatism: He voted for President Obama and Tennessee’s Republican Senator Bob Corker, splits his donations between the parties, and prefers divided government as a check on partisan excess. Like his plan to hire more workers, this too may change as a result of the shutdown. “It’s as if House Republicans are playing suicide bomber with the U.S. economy,” he says. “As a businessman, it defies all reason and logic.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/ar.....gn_id=yhoo

  • Libertymike||

    Translation:

    I WANT MY FUCKING CRONY CAPITALISM!

  • Libertymike||

    shriek-

    First clue is "furniture maker".

    Second clue is your penchant to dress rent seeking in free enterprise threads.

  • Paul.||

    has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hard-liners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1

    Does the article say why, or is this just an Obamatron getting pissy because something happened in DC he didn't like?

  • Paul.||

    The Federal Housing Administration, which backed one-third of all mortgages last year, has furloughed employees, a move that will slow loan approvals and house purchases. “That directly affects the construction and materials industries,” Gentle says, “but it also affects us, since the purchase of a new home is the No. 1 trigger for buying furniture.”

    Fuck, I couldn't stand it. Now it all becomes clear.

    A furniture maker is dependent on the cheap, easy credit afforded by the federal government giving unqualified home-buyers the ability to buy homes they can't afford.

    This guy's entire livelihood depends on pre-2007 (aka Bush-era) economic policies.

  • Libertymike||

    Didn't I nail it?

    To engage in good faith, one should click and read notwithstanding the fact that one already knows what the deal is.

  • Paul.||

    Yes, you did, but I wanted specifics. And boy did I get them.

  • Loki||

    He's getting all pissy over second or even third order effects. He's not directly impacted by the "shutdown", at all.

    Newsflash asshole: if your business can't survive second order consequences of government actions such as this so called "shutdown" then you're probably doing something wrong anyway. Also, I doubt very seriously that sales of new furniture have slowed so dramatically in the 3 days since the shutdown, and even if it has, there's no way this clown could know that yet. He's just being a bitchy little whiner.

  • Biden's Scroteplugs||

    Smart Furniture and countless other businesses are already feeling the impact of the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which backed one-third of all mortgages last year, has furloughed employees, a move that will slow loan approvals and house purchases. “That directly affects the construction and materials industries,” Gentle says, “but it also affects us, since the purchase of a new home is the No. 1 trigger for buying furniture.”

    looks like the shutdown has done him a favor because he has no clue about what the new Qualified Mortgage Rule will possibly do to the housing market January 1st or probably that it's even coming.

  • ||

    This whole fucking imbecilic line of reasoning makes my blood boil. I heard essentially this on NPR this morning:

    The shutdown is leading to a reduction in consumer confidence. This lowers spending. That's going to impact the economy.

    Really? REALLY? So we should make fucking political decisions solely on the basis of keeping consumer spending flowing smoothly? I really fucking hate utilitarianism.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Consumer spending is 80% of the US economy.

    So it is reasonable for businesses to care about it.

  • ||

    No shit Sherlock. But it's unreasonable for them to expect Congress to make decisions around it.

  • Paul.||

    Since when, exactly when, Shrike, have Progressive (democratic) lawmakers ever cared about "uncertainty" leading to lack of consumer confidence and how it affects consumer spending?

    The Obama administration's flail-about-policies in regards to regulation (permanent, long term regulation), major changes to healthcare economies, and consumer confidence bureaus have done far more direct damage to the economy than short-lived, temporary slowdown of non-essential workers with guaranteed backpay and bottomless-well benefits.

  • Tony||

    No, what's done the most direct damage to the economy in recent years are two specific things:

    The Republicans failed to pass the bank bailout in the midst of the collapse of the US economy in 2008.

    The Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling in 2011.

    Moreover, the pointless spending cuts they've insisted on and the sequester cuts they've tolerated are also depressing growth.

    You don't believe any of these things because your understanding of economics consists of "whatever my ideology requires is what's good for the economy, despite what math says."

    In short, you don't get to berate Democrats about confidence (for having the temerity to propose changes to fiscal policy) without mentioning the actions Republicans are taking and refusing to take that are shaking confidence in the entire global market, not just in the squeamish wringing hands of a few CEOs.

  • ||

    So now you're all for bailing out Wall Street? What kind of fucking leftist are you?

  • Jordan||

    Gee, do you think that 10,000 pages of regulations might hurt consumer spending, genius? Don't pretend like you or your pals in government give a shit.

  • Tony||

    "I would have bought more fish if only more of it had been poisoned!"

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Come on! You've got a pic of Obama with his hand on Eric Cantor's shoulder and no alt text?

    'Eric, let me be perfectly clear, I really do like the jewzzzz.'

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You're the idiot, by the way. This morning you called me one stating that "Warren Buffett was/is the largest shareholder of AIG" in claiming that he benefited from the federal bailout of the company.

    That shows an incredible density involving US capitalism.

  • Lord Humungus||

    and once again you fail to provide detail - what are we, mind readers?

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Gee, you're right PB. You're such a captain of financial industry!

    Why don't you explain how Buffett didn't benefit from the AIG bailout?

    I'll sit back and wait for your response.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    By the way any dipshit can google and figure it out in about 30 seconds - GO!

  • JW||

    What did we say this morning about rimming the shitty assholes of old men?

  • robc||

    Belgium went more than 500 days without a government.

  • Winston||

    What people forget is that the old government remained in a caretaker capacity. And "government" just referred to the cabinet and not the bureaucracy.

  • Winston||

    A multi-party parliamentary Republic with proportional representation didn't do Weimar Germany much good.

  • Winston||

    Ignored in these comparisons is that US Congress can't be dissolved whereas as other legislatures can be dissolved prematurely by the Head of State.

  • Len Bias||

    Everything Europe does is better! If their governments don't shut down, neither should ours! End of discussion.

  • Libertymike||

    Do their governments do a better job of preventing the deaths of cocaine addicts on the eve of signing multi-million dollar contracts?

  • Len Bias||

    I know absolutely nothing about that, but will assume that because it's Europe, they do it better.

  • Len Bias||

    I know absolutely nothing about that, but will assume that because it's Europe, they do it better.

  • Len Bias||

    Sorry, meant for Libertymike. This type of snafu would never happen in Europe, b/c someone in the gov't would have corrected it for me.

  • Tony||

    Well the last 12 hours have certainly been a farce for Republicans.

  • JW||

    Why don't we have votes of confidence and collapse of governments? Europe excels at that sort of thing.

    I will give Europe credit in that their elections seem to be much more open to parties other than Giant Douche or Shit Sandwich.

  • Winston||

    Why don't we have votes of confidence and collapse of governments? Europe excels at that sort of thing.

    Obama's Cabinet is not responsible to the House.

    I will give Europe credit in that their elections seem to be much more open to parties other than Giant Douche or Shit Sandwich.

    Didn't do much good to Weimar Germany.

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