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Does the Congressional Gym Lack Towels Due To Shutdown?

Everything you need to know about the Trump/GOP/Schumer/Pelosi/Democratic government shutdown of 2018 in a single tweet.

Nick GillespieNick GillespieRelax. No matter how bad things might seem, they can always get worse.

After watching a morning's worth of Sunday talk shows, it's clear that the government shutdown is solely the fault of Donald Trump and the Republicans. Or maybe "Chucky" Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats deserve full blame (or credit).

The important thing is that it's causing real pain. Witness this from Robert Costa, who covers Congress for The Washington Post. It pretty much sums up everything about the current state of governance in D.C.

This is amazing on several levels, not the least of which is that congressmen aren't even sure if the shutdown they allowed to happen is the reason their gym doesn't seem to be running at full capacity. These are the people who are charged with governing us? I feel so much better now.

As Peter Suderman notes, both at Reason and in The New York Times, the budget process—which sets what the government plans to spend in a given year—is fundamentally broken. Indeed, since the current budgeting rules went into effect over 40 years ago, the federal government has enacted a full budget on time just four times.

Pew ResearchPew Research

Pew ResearchPew ResearchThe good news is that annual appropriations on things such as defense and education (also known as "discretionary" spending) cover a smaller and smaller percentage of federal spending, currently just 30 percent of outlays. The bad news is that "mandatory" spending on entitlements and interest on the debt, which don't need to be authorized every year, comprise 70 percent of spending. So the total amount of government spending can keep increasing even if Congress is forced to share towels in its taxpayer-financed gym.

From the peacocking on display this morning, it seems likely that the current impasse will last for a while. The last significant shutdown, which occurred in the fall of 2013, lasted 16 days. A year later, Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican from Kentucky, said that

It cost us more to shut the government down than to keep it open... You know your government's dysfunctional if it costs more to shut it down than to keep it open, because we paid all these people.

Paul was pointing out that "non-essential" federal employees who were furloughed during the shutdown eventually got back pay and various interest penalties were incurred. Economists disagree whether shutdowns reduce economic activity. It's a complicated issue partly because government spending is counted immediately as part of GDP, so any reduction in that by definition shrinks the economy. If the evidence on the 2013 shutdown is contested, the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that the economy grew during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns.

The fact of the matter is that the government shutdown will not affect most people and all "essential" functions of government—including stuff like air-traffic control, TSA checks, and the like—will carry on. If you work for the federal government, need an expedited passport, and more, you'll be screwed (though if past is prologue, federal employees will be paid in full for days they didn't work). The Senate is reconvening today with the goal of putting together a short-term continuing resolution that will last at least a couple of weeks. The president is calling for the GOP Senate to undercut the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to end discussion of bills, a "nuclear option" that would allow legislation to get voted on with a simple majority. But even if that does happen, absent an actual budgeting process, we'll just be back here again and again and again. For many libertarians, that sort of gridlock is good. But when you look at the way federal spending is done, gridlock just isn't an option anymore. There needs to be actual changes in the way entitlements are doled out. And that's a conversation nobody in office seems interested in having, no matter what sweat-covered representatives are wiping themselves off with these days.

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  • JoeBlow123||

    I have to go to work today and we have no football! The "Armed Forces Network" (American tv for overseas military people) is turned off. It's a hilarious message on the tv too, a big "sorry for shutdown, no tv." Made me laugh.

    But yeah military is going to work (just no football, there would be a riot if this happened during the Super Bowl). Why not just fire all the "nonessential personnel?" I got some people I work with that do absolutely nothing that I would like to nominate too :)

  • SQRLSY One||

    ...and all "essential" functions of government...

    Does this, or does this not, protect ignorant peons like me, from blowing my nose, or coughing, without a doctor's permission?!?!?!?

    If the FDA isn't properly and promptly funded… WHO, I desperately ask, WHO will protect us ignorant peons from hurting ourselves, by using devices to help us cough, or blow our noses?!?!?

    If'n ye think I am being hyperbolic, about the FDA protecting us from such things… Please be advised that we can barely scratch our asses these days, w/o a Government-Almighty-licensed physician's approval! "Coughing" with mechical assistance via cheap plastic flute? Don't go there, w/o yer doctor's written permission! Ditto any electromechanical, electromucousal, assistance! See "lung flute" and "ear-popper" via The Google (Who Knows and Sees All!!!), or, at web site www.churchofSQRLS.com

  • libertynugget||

    What did you do without all the good info from the AFN commercials? What if you were going to marry a local national over the weekend (for some reason that is the commercial I remember)?
    Yeah, every time I debate someone about the merits of cutting military spending, I bring up 2 things: 1) Lazy civilian contractors and 2) the fact that I had to see like 4 sergeants and 2 civilian supply contractors to order $5 fan belt that cost $200 cause it was mil spec.

    Yay tax dollars!

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    gridlock just isn't an option anymore

    Make America Gridlock Again!

  • dantheserene||

    As we saw during the last shutdown, the actual federal employees are basically getting a paid vacation. The people who get screwed are the citizens requiring service from federal monopolies like passports, federal contractors who generally still report for work (oh, the irony of the contractors carrying on while the feds sleep in) and people who peripherally rely on government property or services for their business like those in partnership with national parks.
    It's bullshit all the way down.

  • SQRLSY One||

    +5,239,987 !!!!

  • chemjeff||

    We are led by idiots.

  • Longtobefree||

    And yet they are our idiots.
    Each and everyone was 'duly elected', with the possible a replacement senator appointed by a governor.
    So it's on us.

  • Trollificus||

    They are "the better idiots of our natures".

    And they make the "Turd Sandwich vs. Giant Douche" episode of South Park seem almost poignant.

  • IceTrey||

    Or the Illuminati exist.

  • Longtobefree||

    A 'shutdown' will only be an issue if we force those idiots to forfeit a years pension credit for each day the shutdown is in effect. Any shutdown should be presumed to constitute an announcement that the entire senate and house will not run for any public office at any level of government ever again.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Vote them out. Vote them all out.

  • Sevo||

    "...all "essential" functions of government—including [...] TSA checks,..."

    The scare quotes are entirely appropriate.

  • IceTrey||

    "There needs to be actual changes in the way entitlements are doled out."

    Yes, don't.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    No one in the media is asking why Congressmen need a gym paid for by taxpayers?

    Funny. The media is caught in a tight spot going after Republicans for allowing the government to shut down but avoiding topics that reveal to Americans how corrupt our government is, like gyms paid for by taxpayers.

    Or that Congressmen can opt out of social security.

    Or that Congress has its own pension and that value can be up to 80% of the member's final salary which can equate to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200.

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