03.01.2011 1

A Government Shutdown In Name Only

U.S. Capitol at Night

By Adam Bitely –

Unless Congress approves legislation before March 5, many federal government operations will “shut down” or so we are led to believe. While the House has already approved a Continuing Resolution that includes $61.3 billion in spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, the Senate has left itself with just a few days to pass this legislation which would prevent a shutdown of non-essential federal government services.

Everyone loves a good acronym to describe the dealings of government. So I have created one for the purposes of a government shutdown. Contrary to popular belief, many operations of the government don’t actually shut down, including “mandatory” spending that continues to the tune of $2.1 trillion every year. I refer to the political theater routine that revolves around a shutdown: a SINO, which means a “Shutdown in Name Only.”

If the Senate should fail to approve the House version of the Continuing Resolution bill before March 5, and the government does indeed shutdown, not a whole lot of government services and actions will be stopped.

The war in Afghanistan will still go on uninterrupted. Social security checks will still roll off the printing presses. Medicare benefits will not be stopped. Mail will still be delivered by the Postal Service. Federal courts and police forces will still operate as usual. And the IRS will continue to process tax returns.

So you might be wondering what part of the shutdown is bad?

Other than the fact that Congress will still be showing up to work as they usually do, it is hard to find the downside of a shutdown.

During a government shutdown, the government shuts off services that people like, using the interrupted services as a tool to build public support for the purpose of re-opening the government.

For example, the federal government will close national parks like Yellowstone. Government-run museums like the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. will be closed to the public and the employees will be sent home. Even though the IRS will be processing tax returns, they won’t send you a refund check, essentially holding on to the money they owe you without paying you any interest on the money they are holding for the temporary loan you are essentially giving them. But aside from that, there won’t be much of a change to everyday life — which truly makes this a shutdown in name only.

But this time, using the closing of the more popular touristy items that Americans like may not have the effect that Democrats are hoping for. Unlike the two government shutdowns that occurred in 1995-96, which the Democrats used for political gain, this round of SINO may go to the Republicans.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of Americans favor the government shutting down until spending cuts can be agreed upon. Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid are arguing out of one side of their mouth that they want to keep the government open without reducing any spending while arguing from the other that they need to sit down with Republicans and agree on specific items to cut.

Perhaps the Democrats aren’t aware of how deep in debt our nation is. The Senate Democrats must also be unaware that the modest $61.3 billion cuts on the table in front of them are but a small start to restoring fiscal sanity to the government.  It barely dents the $1.65 trillion budget deficit and does not even lay a glove on the $14.1 trillion debt.

We have seen this song and dance routine before. Nothing will happen if the road that is taken is one that continues to spend at current levels while waiting to see what cuts should be made. Democrats and Republicans have long promised to get their spending addiction under control. Perhaps a SINO will help bring about an end to the spending binge that Washington has been on for far too long.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamBitely.

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